Sunday 19th February 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets left purring after 6-1 win against Catford Wanderers
After two consecutive defeats to Jack Frost it was good to be back on the pitch in the bright sunshine with fourteen eager players for the visit of Catford Wanderers. I wondered briefly if the now famous Anfield stray cat (aka Pusskas) would turn up to greet our visitors. There was no greeting either from Roger French, Senior Vets co-manager, who had wandered off to Chessington and missed our adventure.
When referee Mick Gearing started the game the Farnborough team lined up like this: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard and Danny Winter in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Chris Webb, Nick Waller and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Paul Smith and Darren Burkett in attack. Colin Brazier ran the line until he could come on and Andy Faulks and Mick O’Flynn sat on the bench enjoying the sunshine (not unlike a couple of tomcats I thought, particularly Andy who had been out probably all night celebrating his 43rd birthday).
Catford Wanderers had two younger players in their midst but we did not mind that as they had many players who were as old, if not older, than us as well. It was clear quite early on that both teams would seek to pass the ball about on a very good surface. Collectively we had the greater movement but as individuals Catford probably had the two most mobile younger players initially. They also had a very useful forward who was full of feints, close control and had a big bag of dummies. The first ten minutes were cagey and there was some rustiness in our play, but once our fluency and superior passing took hold the chances started coming particularly when we realised we could get behind the Catford defence down the sides and with angled runs from Darren Burkett. The final ball or cross was elusive though and we began to get frustrated and impatient.
Our first goal, about twenty minutes in, was in fact disallowed as Darren Burkett had, he thought, cut the ball back, or at least squared it, for Paul Smith to finish from close range but the linesman thought otherwise. Still a few minutes later Darren and Paul repeated the move and this time the goal stood. Five minutes later Darren took what he thought was a poor corner from the left – the ball did not get beyond the first defender at the near post but his clearance only sliced the ball back against the base of the post, wrong-footing the keeper, and leaving Steve Blanchard unchallenged with a tap-in from four inches out to produce a collector’s item. 2-0 became 3-0 five minutes later as Chris Webb, with a lofted pass, found Robin Lipscomb who had ghosted into the box drifting in from the left and parting the defence, and he chested the ball down and poked it past the keeper. We could have had more goals in that half such was the overall quality of our play and purposeful movement but the final ball was not always there. Catford were not without danger at the other end and I recall Gary having to dive smartly and bravely at the foot of the lively Catford No 11 but on the whole Gary had one of his quieter games.
Colin Brazier, Andy Faulks and Mick O’Flynn came on at half-time for Patrice Mongelard, Paul Smith and Rob Lipscomb. The changes seemed to knock us off our stride a little. Catford pulled a goal back when new linesman Patrice Mongelard (just because I am wearing red does not mean I will give you an off side because you ask for it) allowed play to continue – rightly according to three eye witnesses in line with the play on our bench. The aforementioned Catford player managed to sell one of his dummies to Gary Fentiman (price undisclosed) and finish smartly to score a well-deserved goal.
That was a wake-up call. Nick Waller produced one of his many exquisite passes during the game to loft the ball behind the defence to Andy Faulks who had anticipated the pass and moved smartly on the shoulder of, and then beyond his marker. Andy had it all to do as he cushioned the ball whilst running and then volleyed it sweetly in one seamless fluid movement past the keeper from the edge of the box. That was a deserved birthday present from Andy to himself, and it was whispered in the bar later, a real contender for goal of the season. From then on the game got a little one-sided as we threatened more goals. Andy was to miss simpler chances but he had steadied HMS Farnborough with that moment of brilliance.
With twenty five minutes left Patrice Mongelard came back on for Steve Blanchard, still breathless after scoring for the first time in years. Robin Lipscomb and Paul Smith followed five minutes later as they returned and Darren Burkett and Ian Shoebridge departed. But whilst Ian went to run the line Darren was to come back on for more memorable moments. His opportunity came when Chris Webb had to leave the fray after an accidental clash of heads that left him, so I am told, with the mother of bumps on his forehead - even bigger than his nose quipped someone who will remain nameless. We wish Chris well. Good thing Mrs Webb is a nurse.
There was time for us to have a second goal disallowed, this time from Robin Lipscomb before Mick O’Flynn released by Colin Brazier (taking a breather after his first game in two months) to roam upfront, found himself in the right place to put a cut back from Rob Lipscomb past the Catford keeper. The Catford players had stood still, making Mick look quite fast, waiting in vain for a whistle from referee Mick Gearing which never came. That was partly because the hitherto hyperactive Catford linesman kept his flag down, and partly because we are more used to (tantric) Mick’s economy with the whistle. Still it was good to see Mick (O’Flynn that is) register his first goal for the Guild. We thought too that Darren was going to bag the goal his play deserved when he side-footed a ball from three yards out to beat the keeper but sadly, or not according to some reactions among his supposed team mates, the ball came back off the post and was cleared. Darren was not finished though – as he raced towards goal at the end of a through ball and found himself in a one-on-one with the keeper. He later revealed that he was unsure what to do, the moment passed but the covering defender unfortunately steered the ball into the net. You could say this was Darren’s third assist. That was almost the last moment of the game. As we removed the nets after the game Robin Lipscomb capped a most useful performance by enabling us to appreciate the value of his home-made contraption (patent pending) to unhook the nets from the back of the crossbar to solve a long-standing problem for the vertically challenged.
As we, and several of the Catford players enjoyed Pam Shoebridge’s excellent spread, there was time in the clubhouse to commiserate with some of the Young Vets returning from their brush with the law – another 7-goal thriller, lost by the odd goal to the Met Police Vets (and including a missed penalty that would, if converted, have yielded a hat-trick of penalties for Matt Wright) after being 4-0 down at half-time. There was time also to respond to Roger French’s urgent text enquiring about our result – another excellent performance achieved in his absence.
Man of the match: Nick Waller who completed all his passes in a polished central midfield display and deserved the two Bishop’s Fingers that hit the back of his throat after the game.
Man of the match: Nick Waller