Sunday 18th December 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets snatch 3-3 draw from jaws of victory against Old Tamponians Super Vets
To play a match on the last Sunday before Christmas, and our 17th game this season, was something of a novelty for us, and we also now have to get accustomed to draws – as we recorded our fifth draw of the current campaign (compared with only one draw last season out of 31 matches).
Our line up had some new elements – down to only twelve today, one for each day of Christmas, with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, Ian Forrest and Ian Coles in defence; John Tallis, Ian Shoebridge, Paul Smith and Robin Lipscomb in midfield; Darren Burkett and Andy Faulks in attack. Twelfth man Roger French waited to bang his drum. Nick Waller walked the line and it was good to see him come to support the team even though he was injured. Jane (Ian Coles’ partner), Thomas French and, later, Ian Forrest’s boss were our supporters.
We had two new faces on the pitch: Darren Burkett up front, brought in to give us the sort of flinty cutting edge we have lacked and Ian Forrest who was an unknown quantity to us – a bit like a box of chocolates – but who in the end made an encouraging debut at left back for the first half, with his style of play.
The day was cold, even to hardy referee Mick Gearing, with thankfully not much wind but the surface was crunchy underfoot in places and, given the amount of rain we have had, a vindication of the drainage works done over the summer. So we wish the ground staff a happy Christmas and New Year.
Having lost 2-0 to the same opponents a fortnight ago we were determined to give a better account of ourselves this time round on our home turf. We were up against the same quality of opposition and the early exchanges were even. Crucially, we played the higher defensive line of the two sides and the ball spent more time in the Old Tamponians half and it was no surprise that we took the lead about fifteen minutes into the game. Ian Shoebridge played a one-two with John Tallis on the edge of the Old Tamponians box, penetrated the defence and shot from about twelve yards out. The pace of the ball, or it may have been the remnants of a divot from the overnight frost, seemed to deceive their keeper who could not stop the ball from going under his body and rolling a little tamely into the net.
Five minutes or so later we were 2-0 up, as Darren Burkett got to the end of a through ball from Andy Faulks – and from a position ten yards parallel to the goal line almost, cunningly disguised a shot as a cross and lobbed the keeper. Darren could have increased our advantage soon after as he rounded the keeper but the angle was against him.
At that point I think we got a little bit complacent and Old Tamponians could sense that they were not out of it. A nervousness and lack of composure had crept into our game, we sat back a bit, and we were punished with five minutes to half time when we did not close down quickly on the edge of our box and when we intervened to block a shot it only diverted the ball beyond Gary Fentiman’s despairing dive. The fact that the last Farnborough touch was from Ian Forrest, of course, had nothing to do with him being replaced by Roger French at half time.
I have often wondered about the expression that a team could score too early in a game. That is what happened to us. With only five minutes of the half gone Darren Burkett controlled a cut-back from Andy Faulks in the box and (compared to his first goal) was more deliberate and obvious in his intentions as he placed the ball into the bottom corner of the Old Tamponians net.
To say we lost our way after that would not be entirely fair to the quality, character and endeavour of our opponents. We did not really mean to give them anything - they just took it from us. They never gave up and kept plugging away. Suddenly we looked very vulnerable and there much traffic down our left in particular. Our midfield was struggling to keep the ball – John Tallis lost his hitherto excellent adhesive properties, even Ian Shoebridge tired, and Robin Lipscomb and Paul Smith were having trouble making progress down the flanks. Darren Burkett and Andy Faulks were taking the game to our opponents by often getting behind them but our final ball was not yielding anything. We had several corners that came to nothing. With about twenty minutes left Old Tamponians scored the best goal of the match as one of their second half substitutes controlled a cross from our left and let fly from twenty-five yards into the top corner. Fifteen minutes later the same player headed a cross against the foot of the post and followed up the rebound to force the ball over the line. After that there were no further goal scoring opportunities for either side. As the final whistle blew Old Tamponians would probably have been the happier side. We had dominated long periods of the game but failed to hold on to a two-goal advantage, twice. A draw was a fair result in the end.
The mood in the clubhouse was very good, with endless trays of food supplied by Pam Shoebridge (who also gets the team’s festive greetings). It was good to see so many of the opposing team staying to enjoy our hospitality which extended to mince pies. It would have taken a brave man indeed to snatch mince pies from Roger French’s jaw today. I stopped counting after the first one. But I did count the match subs and it all added up – and as Vic Farrow told us later all monies collected were for a good cause.
Man of the match – Andy Faulks who gave strong signs of his old sharpness and energy coming back – and the other good news is that Andy has come home for good from his travels. It also bodes well for the New Year with Darren on board, new boots for Chris Webb and even Nick Waller, I think I heard it right, giving up ale (but not mince pies or venison puddings though) for January “to start with”.
Perhaps too we will get a new boiler so we can have hot showers in 2012. Vic Farrow was collecting funds for this – emboldened by a sausage and mince pie, he approached Andy Faulks for his Euros to help with the cost of the new boiler. I suppose it does not really matter that Andy himself would not get the benefit of a new boiler given his commitment to water conservation and allergy to towels. Christmas is a time for giving after all – and we had been a tad generous to our deserving opponents today. Well - I hope we all get what we want for Christmas – Santa lives after all according to Thomas French.
This may not be my last match report of 2011 – watch this space. Weather, and festive excesses permitting at least twenty-two FOBG members, including your match reporter, will attempt to play the so-called President’s match, an inter-club affair, on 27 December.
Man of the match: Andy Faulks