Faversham Town 2 Molesey 1 (13th January 2018)
A late change of plan, mainly due to lethargy and not fancying a long trip up to Ilkeston on a dull and grey day, had me switching to the significantly shorter option of Faversham. I could leave a whole hour later for a start.
As it happens I could have done with that extra hour, not because the M25 was playing up, but because Faversham turns out to be the kind of half-timbered historic market town that I like to wander round for a bit. I just didn’t know. I only found out due to going in search of a pub, having arrived a little earlier than expected, and finding a little row of old buildings (and a sign advertising Faversham’s historic market town credentials) half a mile from the ground. Sadly the pub looked like the sort of place where everyone is called Bert or Alf, and the barmaid would be a woman in her late 50s who’d wear a low-cut top and give you a bit of chat, seemingly unaware that her cleavage had gone further south than Amundsen. Actually, the pub was probably a nice and cosy place in reality, but I decided to opt for the Faversham Town club bar instead.
The bar wasn’t quite as historic as the town, being a portakabin, but it had beer and a pretty and young barmaid. She didn’t to do a lot beyond smile, leaving most of the work to a couple of barmen also there, but I’d rather that than have her pour the drinks and the barman smile in my direction. In truth, she was clearly smiling in a direction that I also happened to be in, rather than at me, but a guy can dream.
If today’s visitor’s Molesey were dreaming about anything, it’s be a season rather less dismal than the one they are currently having, 2nd from bottom, having only picked up 19 points from 27 games so far, albeit well clear of the hapless Shoreham. Faversham weren’t doing much better, on a run of seven games without a win, only a few places ahead in the table.
Both terms emerged on this grey afternoon to a considerably below average crowd for Faversham, 159 being their third worst of the season. Despite there being no obvious threat of rain, most fans congregated under the two covered sides. One looked like a very old covered terrace, with seats added at the front now. The other was a more functional cover behind the goal. The uncovered sides had a sparse smattering of fans, plus the occasional dog being taken for a stroll, and a small girl who repeatedly zipped along the footpath behind one goal, on her scooter. It’s actually not a bad little ground, but as one dad said to his son as the left the bar “It’s not the Emirates, is it?”
It wasn’t a bad little game either. Both teams went for it from the off, with Molesey taking the lead, with the finely named Dre Grobler heading in from a corner, in just the fourth minute. The cheer that greeted it didn’t exactly take the roof off, with Molesey being the worst supported side in the division, and not having any obvious fans at the game.
Faversham, despite a clear lack of confidence up front, were the better team throughout, trying to play some nice football, knocking the ball about. In perhaps the only way Faversham’s ground could be likened to the Emirates, there were often groans when a passing move broke down due to someone trying to be too elaborate. It did look like if Faversham really clicked, they could play some really good stuff for this level. Their current position of 18th suggested they don’t click too often.
They were also being thwarted a lot by the linesman’s flag, but with their habit of getting the ball out wide at every chance, they always looked threatening. Somehow they got to halftime without scoring. Their best chance fell to their No.9, whose back post header really ought to have been buried, but the Molesey keeper made a good stop to keep it out.
Faversham thought they’d drawn level very early in the second half, so early that I was still finishing off my cheeseburger, but the linesman’s flag again came to Molesey’s rescue. “Get you hair out of your eyes, lino!” shouted one fan, to the snooker ball bald linesman.
Faversham didn’t have long to wait until they did equalise though. A young loanee from Margate, Harry Stannard, would make a right nuisance of himself for the whole of the second half, starting with firing in a low shot across the keeper from a tight angle, and finding the bottom corner in the 55th minute.
From there, both teams went all out for the winner. Molesey with plenty of spirit, but not so much quality, and Faversham looking dangerous, but with a habit of playing a bad – and easily intercepted – pass at just the wrong time, when a good pass would have played a player in.
The No.9 who missed the routine header in the first half did worse in the 2nd. A perfect Faverham cross from the right was on a plate for him to head in from six yards, but somehow he mistimed his header and missed the ball completely. If Molesey thought such a let off hinted that this might be their day after all, they were mistaken, as Stannard scored an almost carbon copy of his earlier goal to put Faversham 2-1 ahead shortly after. He even tried his luck with a third effort from a similar area, but this was higher, and a flying save prevented him from getting his hat-trick.
There was time for one more disallowed goal for Faversham, probably also for offside, although the whistle had gone before the ball was chipped into the empty net.
With Molesey still 14 points clear of the doomed Shoreham, who occupy the only relegation spot, and Faversham 23 points adrift of the final play-off spot, it’s not a result that’s of huge importance to the league table. For those home fans heading into the club bar though, for the first time in a while, the only bitterness will be in the beer.