Sunday 9th October 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets not a Pretty Sight in 4-2 Defeat to Belvedere Vets
On paper for this game we had 15 players – and permutations worked out in a hut in Bletchley Park for a first starting XI, a second after 25 minutes, a third at half time, and a fourth after 65 minutes. But as ever, events intervened - the main ones being the quality of our opponents, and the poverty of our play. Yet we had travelled with some hope to post code SE2. After all, against today’s opponents last season we had won 3-1 away, and 4-2 at home (with Andy Faulks bagging all four goals).
For today’s horror show the Farnborough cast was Gary Fentiman in goal; Danny Winter, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Nick Waller, Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks in attack. Paul Bell, Chris Bourlet and Colin Brazier were our substitutes (Colin doubling up as photographer). Roger French directed operations from the touchlines with clipboard, and Isabelle and Thomas French made up a small band of supporters, augmented midway through the first half by Chris Webb and daughter and son who had brought a kite along in case the football became unbearable (which it did).
We would have had one more substitute in Toby Manchip, but our self-appointed club captain withdrew his services when we were getting changed, on the grounds that his mind was not right for the game, and had been messed with further by the late kickoff of 11:30. That freed up his shorts for Andy Faulks. We could have had one more substitute had Mehmet Bozyigit followed up on his text of last night and turned up, but he did not, and bears no responsibility for today’s shambles.
This was our fourth consecutive defeat and whilst it is too early – is it not? - to sack the management in the morning, the fans and the board are getting restless. And I would not really blame some of our players if they began to have second thoughts about getting out of bed to offer such tripe on a Sunday morning when they could play golf, walk the dog or spend time with their families. Talking of tripe, I think Paul Bell must have had some for dinner last night with twelve boiled eggs and a pint of castor oil. I say this as he announced his presence by assaulting us with vapours from what felt like filled nappies from Olivia Mae Bell, inadvertently disposed of in his kit bag.
Anyway things began to go downhill very early, when we lost the toss, in fact. Belvedere decided to change ends and kick down the considerable slope (and with the wind). Their game plan must be quite simple compared with that of Professor French – win the toss, play with the slope, use the width of the pitch, get ahead by half time and then hold out with their vast numbers of substitutes.
It took us what felt like twenty minutes to penetrate their defence and draw a save from their keeper such was the flow of traffic towards our goal. Their midfield was more mobile and ready to support the attack and break into the box, usually unencumbered with our midfielders. Gary Fentiman was the much busier of the keepers, and pulled off a memorable diving save high to his right that may have had something to do with the presence of our photographer, but we managed to weather the first twenty five minutes. The danger signs were clear though. Yet the scores were level when the French master plan swung into action as Patrice Mongelard and Robin Lipscomb were withdrawn to make way for Chris Bourlet and Paul Bell, giving us an entire new left side. Five minutes later we were 2-0 down. To make matters worse first Steve Blanchard and then Danny Winter came off with injuries before the half time whistle Patrice Mongelard and Colin Brazier came on but that was not enough to stop Belvedere going 3-0 up. At the other end we had few crumbs of comfort – Paul Smith was getting some shots in from distance mainly. We never looked like scoring.
The second half was much better for Farnborough as we now had the slope and the wind in our favour. We began to have more shots at the Belvedere goal and they were now the ones playing on the break or feeding off our errors. It was against the run of play when they went 4-0 up after a poor pass from the right of our defence was intercepted, and the resulting cross was converted with a very deft header that lobbed our keeper.
Our spirits were raised with a quick riposte in the form of a trademark close range effort by Paul Bell who was in the right place at the right time to have two goes at converting an excellent cross from Sinisa Gracanin from the right. Our spirits sank again as Belvedere won a penalty from a clumsy tackle in the box on the right of our defence but Gary Fentiman pulled off a smart save. Very soon after that we got a second goal as Ian Shoebridge lashed the ball against the underside of the bar and into the net from six yards out. We had other half chances but did not look like reducing the deficit though Colin Brazier and Ian Shoebridge had good half chances that were blazed over, and we wasted some crosses when we got behind the Belvedere defence.
To be honest with you I lost track of all the substitutions we made today. There was more shuffling of the pack in the second half. I recall was Paul Smith ending up playing at left midfield for the last twenty minutes when all my instincts told me he should be up front. And Nick Waller went off with a calf injury, our third injury in the game, and proof if ever it was needed that substitutes are necessary. We have four players who played today who are unavailable next week, but we should have others returning, including our American import.
In the end it was a fair result. The better team won. At times Belvedere handed out a lesson in passing, movement and ball retention, and lived up to their name which in Italian means beautiful view or sight. The sandwiches, potatoes and sausages laid on by our hosts in the bar were to our tastes. However, our football had left a bad taste in the mouth – that’s all five tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (note to those who were at the FOBG quiz the night before).
Seven games into the season - we are finding it hard to adjust to our reduced circumstances compared with last season. Injuries have not helped. I would like to think that we will add to our two wins this season but for this we need to start scoring again – and as Andy Faulks reminded me “I’ll start scoring again when the defence keeps a clean sheet”. Fair point, I concede. So we have a lot to work on after today’s limp performance. We’ll have to be up for it against Inter Vyagra next Sunday.
Man of the match today was Ian Shoebridge, as he was in last year’s corresponding fixture but that is all the history that was repeated.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge