Wednesday 16th May 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets get over shocking jinxed start to take decisive lead in test series against Riverside Wanderers
This was the Senior Vets\' 5th game in 16 days and injuries and the heavy pitches are taking their toll. That is why we drafted in four players from our Young Vets to help us out. I say Young Vets but in reality three of them are in their forties and today we had only one player below the age of 40 in the side, and the average age of the thirteen players out there was 45 – I expect not too dissimilar from the Riverside squad though they might not feel that way. Our squad today consisted of Steve Palmer in goal; Ian Coles, Darren Burkett, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Matt Wright, Jason Miller, Ben Clunn in midfield; Andy Faulks and Pete Harvey up front. John Tallis and Paul Bell waited to make their impact on the game – and they certainly did that.
The Riverside team was, to me at least, as strong and accomplished as any we have faced this season. This being our third game against them this season (added to the three matches last season) I feel I am getting to know them quite well and noted their very good left back (Ollie?) was missing. I should have known that they tend to start their games very well but I do not think any of us expected to be 2-0 down after ten minutes. Several of us had yet to touch the ball when they got their first goal about two minutes into the game. A simple over the top ball, after we lost it in midfield, penetrated the right of our defence and the low cross was converted at close range. Their second goal was not too different except that this time an excellent dipping shot from the edge of the box did the job. We were all over the place, disjointed in midfield, confused in defence and Steve Palmer, playing his first game in months after injury, must have wondered if he and partner Karen should have found a better use of their time.
This nightmare of a start had unfurled itself in front of co-manager Roger French – a surprising sight – making the most of a twenty-minute window in his parental schedule. Roger had rounded up the squad, checked the weather forecast regularly, grovelled to Vic Farrow to let us play on the big pitch, ordered the pizzas at the same Tuesday deal even though it was Wednesday despite not being able to play or partake of the post match hospitality. The other thing Roger did today, we all felt, was to jinx us. Yes – footballers are a superstitious lot and Roger should have stayed away like Dracula at a garlic growers conference. It is no coincidence that as soon as Roger departed the scene, as if exorcised, our performance improved dramatically; but I think he must have still been in the car park when Darren Burkett took a penalty awarded by referee Mick Gearing after twenty minutes. You guess right – Darren missed it, aiming apparently for the goal on our top pitch. If you entered the picture of this moment in a spot-the-ball competition it is highly likely that the prize would never be won. The penalty will have seemed harsh to Riverside – I have seen them given and not given, but by then we had started to turn the tide.
The pace we had injected into the side through Jason Miller, Ben Clunn and Pete Harvey was beginning to burn holes through the Riverside defence. We were even able to shrug off the premature withdrawal of Andy Faulks with a hamstring injury that threatens his target of twenty goals this season – only one more needed but he is going to have to sit out our next game (a testing affair against our Young Vets). John Tallis came on for Andy and got stuck in, fitting like a glove in the midfield and bringing a composure, shape, intelligent distribution and stability that we had lacked in the opening stages, and brought the best out of others, in particular Matt Wright.
I think that even Riverside match reporters will agree that after their initial burst that yielded two goals – they were under the cosh as the one way traffic towards their goal produced a string of chances for Farnborough. Ben Clunn and Andy Faulks missed very good close range headers. Jason Miller, Pete Harvey and Rob Lipscomb had shots that fizzed close. One to ones came and went. We had a goal rightly disallowed when John Tallis did a “Nat Lofthouse” on the Riverside keeper. We had an even better shout for a penalty turned down because of a marginal offside fractionally before the impact which left Pete Harvey in some discomfort and he was not playacting.
Patrice Mongelard made way after half an hour for Paul Bell at right back. Patrice proceeded to give one of the most inept performances as a linesman seen at Farrow Fields. He was out of position, behind the play, ahead of the play, even misread the number on a Riverside player’s shirt, and bungled an offside situation that was rescued by Mick Gearing’s very decisive refereeing today (as he was advised to be to the extent of insisting on awarding a corner when 22 players said it was a throw-in) Editor\'s note: 20 players: Colesy and I knew it was a corner. Paul plays his own brand of total football in a position best described as right forback – a cross between fullback and forward (sounds better than right backward). Defensive duties become an inconvenience and maximum artistry is poured into the objective of arriving unnoticed in the box into space and converting chances. Our efforts were finally rewarded five minutes before half-time when Ben Clunn set up Pete Harvey who finished acrobatically and emphatically with a low shot into the bottom corner.
We could not wait for the second half to start. Our scoring opportunities started to come quickly and early. Ben Clunn and Jason Miller were causing no end of trouble to the Riverside defence. It was no surprise when Rob Lipscomb got our equaliser about ten minutes into the half after Paul Bell had materialised at the far post to cut a Colin Brazier cross back for Rob to sweep into the net. Yet at 2-2 Riverside gave us one last reminder that they should not be underestimated – our right forback left a space which the Riverside danger man Kieron (creator of their first and scorer of their second goal) ghosted into for a one to one with Steve Palmer. I shut my yes in horror and missed the touch that Steve applied to the ball to divert it onto the base of the post.
Patrice Mongelard came back on for Darren Burkett for the last half an hour and almost immediately saw Paul Bell get our third goal as he lurked with intent on the edge of the box, controlled a clearance from a corner and picked his spot to place the ball beyond the keeper through a crowd of players. We needed, nay, deserved, the cushion of a second goal advantage which came when Pete Harvey swung a dangerous corner in that was deflected into the net by a Riverside defender. As the last Farnborough player to touch the ball Pete could rightly claim an assist which his all round performance richly deserved. There was time for further Farnborough misses – including from Paul Bell two yards out as he attempted to walk the ball into the net instead of giving it some gas before Mick blew the final whistle decisively.
The day ended with cold showers, and hot pizzas received by a ravenous Vic Farrow seen pacing the car park awaiting the delivery man (when he should have been switching the hot water on). Recent showers at the cub have gone like this: hot water + female; hot water + no female and today cold water + no female. Once again it was good to see our guests enjoying our hospitality. Only two more games to the end of our long season.
Man of the match: Paul Bell