Sunday 23rd October 2011
By Patrice Moneglard (1st half) and Colin Brazier (2nd)
Senior Vets on Downward Slope Again, with 4-1 Defeat in Game of Two Halves
We approached today’s game with concerns that our opponents had been strengthened by defections from another top side but really we should have worried more about our own team. Last week’s big win had masked deficiencies, particularly in our finishing, which came back to haunt us.
For today’s outing to Pickhurst Rise we had assembled a squad of 14: we started with Steve Palmer in goal; Colin Brazier, Nick Waller, Danny Winter and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit and Toby Manchip in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks in attack. Paul Bell, John Tallis and Sinisa Gracanin were to take the field midway through the first half according to the grand plan orchestrated by Roger French from our technical area. Isabelle French and Steve Palmer’s partner (Karen) completed the Farnborough presence on a dry, bright and breezy morning. The playing surface was excellent - grassy, wide, true, but not quite level. There was a bit of a clue in the address (Pickhurst Rise)..
The return of John Tallis to play his first game since the infamous charity game against Edenbridge at the start of the season was very welcome, but he got stuck on the way in, and came late. Sidenote: another charity game casualty, George Kleanthous, has just dispensed with his crutches but his serious knee injury is likely to keep him out for all but the last few weeks of the season at least. We wish him a speedy recovery. The centre of the defence was unfamiliar with both regular centre halves – Ian Coles and Steve Blanchard – missing, but Patrice Mongelard and Nick Waller coped more than well, ably supported by fullbacks Danny Winter and Colin Brazier. From our solid defensive platform we attacked freely, particularly down the right. Our early chances came from there. Mehmet Bozyigit once again was prominent. He could have opened the scoring himself, before he could also have provided an assist for a certain goal by an unmarked Andy Faulks. Paul Smith too had good shooting chances but is still looking for that elusive first goal since his return from injury. Andy Faulks was to miss a one to one before he finally scored from a very sweet move. Patrice Mongelard lofted a pass over the Wickham Park defence which played Mehmet Bozyigit through – he advanced to the bye line and this time opted to cut the ball back for Andy Faulks, who timed his movement to perfection and put a sweet and acrobatic first time volley into the bottom corner.
This we thought would unlock the door but that was not to be. We made three changes after 25 minutes as John Tallis, Sinisa Gracanin and Paul Bell came on for Toby Manchip, Rob Lipscomb and Ian Shoebridge. I do not think the substitutions unsettled us as they often do. After all the chances kept coming, and Sinisa Gracanin and John Tallis quickly formed an impressive pairing in midfield. I think what gave heart to Wickham Park was the fact that our finishing was very poor as several good chances went begging. Our opponents got back in the game, prompted by a very tricky winger, a good forward who shielded and held the ball up well and a midfield that moved as a pack. Their equaliser was probably their second shot on our goal as Sinisa Gracanin lost his footing in midfield and a Wickham Park midfielder was able to advance unchallenged, and pick his shot from the edge of the box and place a delightful chip into the net from 15 yards out.
At half time when I came off, the mood was subdued – we had failed to take many chances and make the most of the 65% of possession we had enjoyed. Now Wickham would have the slope, the wind and the sun in their favour. Andy Faulks and Mehmet Bozyigit took a breather but would come back later unlike Patrice Mongelard – who had to leave for a family event.
The second half was about five minutes old when a high speculative free kick (awarded for a harsh handball I thought) was lofted into our box. As I sloped off the last image of the game which I was to retain on my retina was of Steve Palmer coming off his line, calling for the ball, unchallenged – but with the sun in his eyes (and not wearing a cap), letting the ball slip out of his grasp to the waiting, and no doubt surprised, Wickham Park player in front of him, who had gambled and followed up to walk the ball into an empty net. On the drive home I wondered if I would be the only undefeated senior vet today. The dressing room had lost half the management, and we seemed to have lost the way to scoring goals.
Thanks Pat, and thanks for describing their second goal, I wasn’t looking forward to that.
You thought you were just going to describe the first half but sadly your clairvoyance was working well and it was pretty much the same story in the second period. I thought we might be in trouble conceding so early up the slope and into the sun but we responded really well, had most of the play and should have equalised on numerous occasions. We thought we had got level when Mehmet’s corner came down off the bar and was tapped in by Toby Manchip but amid fierce protests that the ball had gone behind from the corner kick and swung back into play the referee gave a goal kick. The evidence was circumstantial however as 11-man Park could provide no linesman.
As the game became more and more stretched it was surprising no more goals went in at either end. Steve redeemed himself on more than one occasion to keep us in the game.
Speaking of surprise, I think Mehmet was not alone in being a little taken aback when following more substitutions this fast, tricky, slightly built winger was asked to play at centre half by Statler aka Roger French, to whom juggling with replacements is still something akin to nuclear science or anger management. To his credit, Mehmet picked up this dubious baton without a murmur. Looking around, I could see 10 more suitable candidates and asked Danny to switch with him, with Roger’s blessing of course.
Going into time added on for protests etc. the game was still finely balanced, but two examples of the home side’s finishing power put a flattering hue on the scoreline for them, which they happily admitted.
Naturally there was the usual family tiff but on this occasion nothing to do with la famille French; this time it was members of the FOBG family at loggerheads but Colin and Sini soon settled their differences in the bar: we blamed the forwards! (Just kidding!!!).
Had m. Mongelard remained on the pitch he was on course for man of the match but in the event this honour was shared between the aforementioned ably supporting fullbacks Danny Winter and Colin Brazier.
Man of the match: Danny Winter and Colin Brazier