Sunday 30th September 2012
By Roger French
Senior Vets back to winning ways in hard fought victory against West Farleigh
This week saw co-manager Waldorf continue his absence which meant that I would have to add match reporting to my list of jobs for the second week running and worst of all no half-time oranges for the long trek down to West Farleigh – something I forgot to purchase!
With a few regulars unavailable we were still able to muster a squad of 13 including “AWOL” Tallis who was reminded of the need to read the emails sent out by the ever magnanimous Statler. Indeed we could have had a few more following a call from Young Vets manager Paul Tanton bemoaning the fact they had 17 players available for their home game. Once it became clear that our game was some 35 miles away we soon ruled out the chance of any emergency loans.
As it was our numbers dropped on the morning following a late unavoidable withdrawal by Chris Bourlet and so we lined up as follows:
Gary Fentiman GK
Nick Waller RB
Chris Webb CB
Ian Coles CB
Colin Brazier LB
Mehmet Bozyigit RM
Sinisa Gracanin CM
John Tallis CM
Rob Lipscomb LM
Andy Smith CF
Andy Faulks CF
Sub: Roger French
West Farleigh have been busy over the summer in constructing a new set of changing rooms. We had plenty of time to admire the newly constructed building as we waited with bated breath to see if our kit would find its way to the Kent countryside courtesy of Sidney Gracanin together with our strike force that had also appeared to have gone AWOL. Luckily they all made it in time for the trek to the vast very well manicured pitch.
With young Thomas well ensconced in his tent the game kicked off with us playing into the stiffening breeze and up the slight incline. West Farleigh looked to have recruited a few younger, faster players since last season and used them to good effect by harrying and closing down our players. The huge pitch was energy sapping and virtually resulted in two lines of 5 players at times rather than a traditional formation as noted by Colin Brazier, resplendent in his new boots which allowed him to stay on his feet as he ploughed his way up and down the wing.
West Farleigh had the majority of possession and chances in the first half and after 20 minutes we contributed to their first goal by backing off and allowing the attacker plenty of time to run into the box unchallenged and put the ball past Gary to deservedly take the lead.
Things settled down a bit after that with Webby marshalling the back line very efficiently again feeding the fullbacks, Colin and Nick who had an excellent game. The pressure didn’t ease up but we were certainly coping better and had the odd foray into the opposition box.
Sini and John were beginning to get to grips with things in the middle more but the ball still seemed to be falling more to West Farleigh. Andy Smith was doing an excellent job of holding the ball up and Compo was feeding off of him. This combination was put to excellent use late on in the half as Andy played an exquisite ball into the box for Compo to run onto and lift over the diving keeper to bring us level.
Half-time came and we were grateful to be still in the game. With a lack of any fully fit substitutes there were no arguments about carrying on the way we had started but this time with the wind behind us and the benefit of the slope.
West Farleigh kicked the second half off with the intention of taking the game to us and carried on as they left off pushing us back into our own half. The defence with Colesy and Webby in the middle were holding strong and the wing play by Rob and Mehmet were beginning to put more pressure on the robust West Farleigh defence.
With 15 minutes gone Mehmet pulled up with a groin strain resulting in Statler coming on to play left midfield and Rob switching to the right. With his first touch Statler got a decent block in on the West Farleigh midfielder and moments later with his second touch of the ball using his right foot he lofted a long ball to John Tallis on the edge of the area who advanced and slotted the ball home to put us ahead. The comment from Statler to John on celebrating the goal was “Don’t worry John, all is forgiven”.
Our joy was short-lived as West Farleigh upped the ante and pressed forward. What should have been a no nonsense clearance from Rob Lipscomb hit an attacker full in the stomach and rebounded back into the danger area. We failed to clear the ball and an attacker waiting on the edge of the box made no mistake to pull the game level again.
Following the restart Thomas emerged from his hidey hole and proceeded to attract my attention. As he could see I was on the pitch playing I assumed there was some sort of mini-crisis so when the play stopped next I asked the referee to halt the game whilst I attended to his needs. Having reached the tent and enquired of Thomas as to the nature of this emergency it turned out that he couldn\'t open the sachet of ketchup that came with his ham snack attack wrap and wanted my help! This task completed I returned to the game.
With 15 minutes or so left the best move of the game resulted in our first contender for Goal of the Season. The ball was played out wide by Andy Smith to Compo who then crossed the ball for an unmarked Sini to run on to. He carried the ball forward cutting in from the right to the edge of the box and saw the keeper coming off his line to meet him. Rather than power the ball he managed a well executed chip over the keeper with the ball nestling in the top left hand corner. What a way to top a fantastic individual performance.
We had some breathing space but we couldn’t afford to relax and it took two or three excellent one on one saves by Gary to keep West Farleigh out as they desperately tried to find an equaliser. Eventually with a few minutes left Compo struck again to keep his fantastic goal scoring record going and grabbed our fourth as he cut in from the wing and slotted the ball home.
Not long after, the final whistle went on what was an absorbing and exhausting match and we had managed to record an excellent victory over tough opponents by coming from behind. The post match votes were taken and by a clear majority the winner was Sinisa “Sidney” Gracanin who also became the first nominee for the Goal of the Season. Post match drinks were taken in The Good Intent whilst Thomas explored the mini-adventure playground on the green in front of the pub.
Next week we have another tough game away on a big pitch with a noticeable slope against Belvedere but this time we might get oranges and a return to regular match reporter Waldorf.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin