Sunday 22nd January 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Woeful Senior Vets get a kick in the Baltics in 6-0 thrashing
We had no illusions about this one. This away fixture was no picnic and we were facing a team that had put six past us at home on 6 November (though we did score three on that occasion).
The morning was bright but cold, and very windy. The later than usual kick off at 11:00am had allowed everyone time to get to Warlingham or thereabouts, and in particular to find a parking space. The mood in the dressing room before the game was as good as it would get that day – despite Paul Bell giving us a sensory experience based on that Geordie favourite – the sprout vindaloo.
There were fifteen of us at the start: Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Paul Bell, Steve Blanchard and Ian Coles in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, John Tallis and Robin Lipscomb in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks in attack. Roger French, Mick O’Flynn, Nick Waller and Danny Winter waited for the Farnborough exchange which was timed for twenty five minutes into the first half.
The first fifteen minutes were quite even; however, the sharper, more cohesive game, aggressive tackling and greater menace in the opposing box belonged to Baltic. Toby Manchip was the busier keeper, mainly having to come off his line to clear danger, but there were no clear chances for either side in that time. Our passing was approximate, hopeful, we were slow to the second ball and these two factors combined to give Baltic their first goal as Sinisa Gracanin and Patrice Mongelard failed to deal with a loose ball in midfield and a Baltic midfielder nipped in, nicked it, and ran unopposed from the halfway line to measure his shot and loft the ball above Tony Manchip inside the far post.
We reacted. Paul Smith drew what was the only save of the half from the Baltic keeper. As the twenty five minutes came up Roger French rang the changes even as Baltic were about to take a set piece. Steve Blanchard, Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin and Paul Bell made way for the four substitutes mentioned above. The back four and midfield were reshuffled. The effect was the same. We continued to be under the cosh. Baltic forced a number of corners and two of these led to their next two goals. Patrice Mongelard headed the ball out from a Baltic corner only to see it returned into the box from thirty five yards out on the wing straight onto the head of their best forward, free as a bird six yards out, who placed his deft header wide of Toby into the bottom corner. Five minutes later another Baltic corner resulted in some pinball in the Farnborough box which saw two Baltic forwards amidst six or seven Farnborough players contrive to force the ball over the line. We had another scare before the half was out when a further round of pin ball in the box nearly cost us but this time the ball found its way to Toby Manchip who had his back to the ball for most of that episode.
The second half did not start well for us. Baltic were 5-0 up after ten minutes as we were undone in quick breaks which started in their box and ended up with our defence outnumbered as Toby was beaten from close range. Fifteen minutes into the second half we rotated again as Patrice Mongelard, John Tallis, Paul Smith and Ian Shoebridge made way for the four who had gone off midway through the first half. I do not normally relish being substituted though will do my share for the team but today I can honestly say that I was glad to come off – a feeling I found shared by at least two of the others who came off then. Five minutes later it was 6-0 to Baltic and Toby Manchip had had a bellyful as he engineered an extra substitution by getting John Tallis to replace him in goal, almost unnoticed by most of the team. Well it is a small silver lining that John managed partly by design (sticky fingers), and partly luck, to keep a clean sheet.
Strangely, our more fluent passages of play came in the last fifteen minutes or so as we put as much pressure on the Baltic goal as we had all game. The best moment for us came from an Andy Faulks shot into the top corner that was acrobatically tipped over by the excellent Baltic keeper. I complimented the Baltic linesman on his keeper only to be told that the lad was almost thirty years old, was indeed quite good, but his kicking was the weaker part of his game but he would improve over time. There was time for Roger French to have a contretemps with a Baltic player but the red mist was blown away by the stiff breeze that cooled tempers in a game where no prisoners were taken but there was no malice.
Another sad sight today which all footballers dread, apart from the cold, disgruntled and severely humbled FOBG players, was the sight of an ambulance on the adjacent pitch dealing with a serious injury (broken leg we suspect). Had it been a taxi several of us would have jumped into it. We could not all bear to be in the same dressing room afterwards – there were some tantrums and mutterings. There was some relief in the showers though when the transfer of shower gel between John Tallis and Sinisa Gracanin was described as the best pass we’d played all day.
I cannot blame the conditions – they were the same for both teams. Our opponents were not really younger than we were (except for their goalkeeper, and possibly their excellent centre forward). They were just technically superior, better organised and more clinical. There were one or two grumbles about the policy of bringing four substitutes on midway through the first half, and again in the second half, but really no-one can think of an alternative way of keeping a squad of 15 happy and of course games like today do not help. Some took a little consolation in seeing that we had more of the ball in the last quarter of an hour but by then I suspect our opponents relaxed a bit, at 6-0 up. We’d probably do the same though I do not suppose we’ll ever find out.
Still there was some comfort eating later as Baltic produced a platter of excellent sandwiches and sausage rolls. By then we had begun looking forward to next week’s game. Barmy you might think but that’s the FOBG spirit.
Man of the match: this too was a farce as it was apparently decided in the other dressing room, that instead of voting today every player would get a vote. I do not know about the others but I want no part of it. As far as I was concerned today we all deserved to have one vote deducted from our running totals for the season.
Man of the match: Erm...