The Town crash out of the cup in an ill-disciplined 3 – 2 defeat to Spelthorne Sports.
Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.
Farnham Town should still be in the hat for the next round of the Emirates F. A. Cup.
And they would be, if they could have taken their chances, kept their composure and held their nerve after referee Callum Peters had given them a glorious opportunity to progress to the 1st Qualifying round.
This was a strange game, decided by a series of strange decisions from all sides.
Before kick-off, Farnham fans were surprised to see strikers Ashley Ellson and Nat Williams starting on the bench, but the Town team on the pitch appeared unaffected by the changes and dominated a nervous Spelthorne Sports for the first fifteen minutes of the match.
Farnham should have taken the lead when Matt Glass split the Spelthorne defence with a perfect pass to put Josh Ogunseye through one on one with the ‘keeper, but the striker’s shot came back of the inside of the post and the Spelly fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, just as it seemed certain that the Town’s dominance would see them ahead, a lapse of defensive concentration allowed Spelthorne to sneak the opener against the run of play.
For the rest of the half, Farnham took the game to the opposition, almost equalising when a Cavan Atkinson header hit the post, and, despite being behind, the fans were optimistic at the break, believing that one goal would see the Town push on to score more.
They were right, but couldn’t have been more wrong.
The second half had barely kicked off when, unmarked in the six-yard box, Josh Ogunseye glanced his header wide.
Then it all kicked off on the half-way line, when a reckless challenge from Jack Mitchell led to an ugly fracas with both sides facing up to each other. When the referee finally regained control, he issued cards like a croupier seeking a productivity bonus. Red for Mitchell, another red for Nhoj Witter who had raised his arms in the melee, and a third red for the Spelthorne player who retaliated.
Despite being down to nine men, Farnham raised their game again and were finally rewarded on the hour, when the ever industrious Josh Ogunseye swooped in to beat the Spelthorne keeper at his near post.
To underline the chaotic nature of the match, it was full-back Max Meaton who popped up in the six-yard box to slot home the Town’s second. Initially ruled out by the assistant’s flag, the goal was given by the referee and Farnham finally led with 20 minutes left.
It was a lead that lasted less than five minutes.
A man up, Spelthorne pressure first found an equaliser, and then the winner with just five minutes of normal time remaining.
Even then, there was time for the Town to create a couple of half chances from dead ball situations and collect another couple of bookings for cynical challenges that stopped threatening Spelly breaks, but the match was lost when there for the taking.
Farnham Manager Colin Millard felt that the referee ruined the game:
“Football can be a brutal game at times and today was one of those occasions for us.
I really enjoyed watching us play this afternoon. Some of our play was extremely fluent and we created numerous chances that, on another day, would have seen us out of sight at half-time.
Even when we were down to nine men. we were the better team, but, if you don’t take the chances, you run the risk of the opponent snatching something. Fair play to them for taking the few opportunities they had.
The sending offs spoilt the game to a degree and I’m convinced Jack’s was wrong. Yes, it was a foul and a yellow card, but it wasn’t dangerous, he wasn’t out of control and it certainly wasn’t high. Their lad was just a bit quicker than Jack and he was slightly late.
But it was their reaction that got him and two others sent off including one of their own.
I honestly don’t believe there would have been any reds had it not been for their reaction.
However, with the fight and spirit shown today, when we start finding the net more regularly, we’re in for a very good season”.
With two games in three days next weekend, Farnham will be weakened by suspensions and will need to find strength in depth.
MOTM : Matt Glass
The Town’s next home match is the local derby against Badshot Lea on Bank Holiday Monday. Kick off 11:00am