Sunday 18th September 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Youth Triumphs 2-1 over Experience in All-Farnborough Affair as Opponents for Two Teams Fail to Show
Our opponents today would have been Edenbridge Vets. Given their record in fulfilling fixtures against us, and Farnborough's participation in a charity match at Edenbridge on 28 August, the last thing that entered our minds on this bright sunny morning as we arrived at the club was that we would be up against 16-year olds; however, as some of us were getting changed the uncharitable news filtered through that Edenbridge had called only moments earlier to say they could not muster a side. We first opted to play 7-a-side on half a pitch as we had two goalkeepers (Steve Palmer having turned up to referee the match). Gradually though an even better scenario began to emerge as it looked like a second set of opponents may not turn up, this time for our Youth XI. The chances of this happening were as remote as Colin Brazier getting sent off. But both happened.
And so it came to be, after the regulation 15 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time had elapsed before the Youth XI game could be awarded to Farnborough, that we lined up against a team of 16 year-olds. Statisticians among you will be interested to know that the combined ages of the Senior Vets' back four in the second half was 200 – more than the entire eleven players facing us. Early thoughts of mixing the teams up had given way to the “better” idea of getting more play time as a team, and setting ourselves a stiff test against the exuberance, mobility and verve of youth – a sort of tortoise versus hare contest for masochists.
Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Chris Bourlet, Danny Winter, Ian Coles and Steve Blanchard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Brazier, Leo Maccioni and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Jerry Cogotti, and Robin Lipscomb in attack. Our substitutes were Paul Smith and Patrice Mongelard (the latter running the line and surprising his visually challenged colleagues with his honesty). All but three of the twenty or so spectators were rooting for the youngsters. But we had the youngest two supporters in Isabelle and Thomas French, with Papa Roger French, himself a casualty of the above mentioned charity match. I am quite sure that whatever Roger did in that match had nothing to do with today’s turn of events.
It took the “grandads” a good ten to fifteen minutes before we could take the play into the Youth XI half. By then it was clear that we were facing a highly mobile, technically good, well-organised outfit whist we had trouble putting passes together and holding on to the ball and using it to good effect. It is not often that we find ourselves with so little time on the ball and facing opponents that could make up ground so swiftly. Gary Fentiman was the much busier keeper – having to race off his line to pick up a lot of slightly over-hit through balls to the edge of the box, and he needed to be secure in his handling. It was against the run of play that we took the lead when Paul Smith laid on a pass for Ian Shoebridge to score from twelve yards out. We almost doubled a lead with an offside goal, and a good shooting opportunity that fell to Chris Bourlet who had advanced into the Youth XI box, totally oblivious of his defensive duties on our right.
It took the Youth team about ten minutes to equalise as a seemingly promising situation for us at the edge of their box was quickly turned around with swift passing and movement down the exposed right of our defence and Gary was beaten at his near post from inside the six-yard box. Our opponents were to hit bar and post too in that first half. The other event of note in that first half was the even more premature departure of Danny Winter (who had been due to play only the first half) after fifteen minutes for a cut eyebrow following a clash of heads with what looked like one of his own players. It was comforting to know that ex-nurse Pam Shoebridge was on hand in the clubhouse to minister to Danny, before a recommended trip to the Princess Royal Hospital for a couple of stitches.
The second half was equally lively. We soaked up a lot of pressure as the Youth team stretched the play and raided down the flanks – particularly down our left where Colin Brazier was prominent but in no danger of being sent off again, as he was in 1989 when today’s opponents were but a glint in their fathers’ eyes. Paradoxically, we had what would have looked from the sidelines like the better chances – in particular two one-to-ones for Paul Smith stand in the memory when he shot from further out than he might have liked but it was good to see him getting closer to scoring after such a long lay-off. He might well have scored if Robin Lipscomb had squared the ball back to him inside the box instead of shooting selfishly and tamely from six yards out.
At the other end we had to defend several corners and cope with the Youth team’s ability to appear suddenly in numbers, overrun the midfield and threaten our goal. Midway through the second half they took the lead from close range as they outnumbered us in the box after we failed to clear the danger decisively. The score remained at 2-1 until the final whistle.
The atmosphere in the clubhouse was relaxed and Pam Shoebridge laid on a lovely spread as usual – though I could not help overhearing that some of the Youth team had also gone out for some chips – one of the blessings of a youthful digestive system I suppose.
So in the end we made the most of an unpromising situation and we, and the Youth team, were fortunate that we had ready-made opponents so to speak. There was not a single bad tackle in that game and, if I can put in that way, - today showed that both the past and the future of FOBG are in good shape.
Many thanks to Roy Seymour, the man in the middle once again
Man of the match today – Gary Fentiman for playing no small part in keeping the score line respectable.
Next week – we are off to Dulwich to play SANCO Supervets. Injuries are taking their toll on the squad but we can look forward to the return of Compo, aka Andy Faulks, last season’s top scorer, home for a while from his Greek adventures.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman