Sunday 14th October 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Shoddy and Sloppy Senior Vets get Inter Vyagra Stuffing
As limp performances go this will take some beating, and the contrast of bright autumn sunshine and the darkest of moods will remain in the memory for a long time. Yes – we lost for the first time against a team we have always beaten in the four seasons that we have been playing them and the manner of it was shocking. As I said at the end of last week’s reportage our opponents are now a stiffer proposition, and they certainly enhanced their performance today. To say we gave them their four goals may seem patronising but there is no denying the part we played in all of them, collectively and individually.
Even though our usual kit had been washed twice this week by Chris Webb – it was not used as we switched to a navy blue kit (as the away team) to avoid a clash between Inter Vyagra’s orange and our usual “bacon and egg” strip. Some of our players later claimed that our kit clashed with the referee’s colours and that was why so many of their passes went to him. We had the luxury of fifteen players today and that too became an issue at the end. The starting XI were: Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mick O’Flynn and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Ian Shoebridge in attack. John Tallis, Chris Bourlet, Paul Bell and Roger French waited to come on, or not.
I do not think that we were alarmed at all by our opponents in the first fifteen to twenty minutes. The overall lack of quality in our play was more of a worry as we failed to make the most of our superior possession and the slope. Our passing deteriorated, we crowded the midfield unnecessarily and our final balls were poor. Still the natural order seemed to be restored as we took the lead. A scrappy goal to be honest as Ian Shoebridge put Mick O’Flynn through on the right – Mick sliced his shot but the rebound fell kindly to Robin Lipscomb to poke home from short range. A back pass soon after from Mick O’Flynn had Gary Fentiman struggling in the corridor of uncertainty but we got away with it. Inter Vyagra got back in the game but the manner of their equaliser could not have been predicted and had to be seen to be believed. Yet another hopeful Guild through ball was cleared by the Inter Vyagra goalkeeper as he came out of his box and from fully seventy yards out wellied the ball upfield. The 6ft 3in Gary Fentiman in the Farnborough goal took three steps forward, misjudged the bounce of the ball and was lobbed in the top corner. Worse was to come. John Tallis had been on the pitch for about five minutes (replacing Steve Blanchard in the centre of our defence) when he attempted something fancy on the edge of our box and failed. The ball fell to probably the best Inter Vyagra player on the day who lashed it from fifteen yards out against the post past Gary’s outstretched hand and into the net. We did well to get back in the game soon after as our best passing move produced a moment of rare quality: Patrice Mongelard found Mick O’Flynn, for once staying wide on the right, and he played the ball through to Ian Shoebridge who squared it for Sinisa Gracanin to place a low finish from twelve yards past the Inter Vyagra keeper. The whole sequence of passes took seconds, was clinical and left everyone wondering why we had not produced more of the same.
We knew, as we tucked into the half-time oranges, that we had not played as well as we could but some found cause for optimism. Patrice Mongelard and Robin Lipscomb made way for Chris Bourlet and Paul Bell. It was clear very quickly that any optimism we had was very misplaced. If anything we became even more disjointed and whatever composure we had before drained away. The half was barely five minutes old when Chris Bourlet, in the centre of our defence inexplicably, attempted a move that required finesse, quick feet, balance and not a little pace. He lost the ball and hacked down the nimbler Inter Vyagra forward. The stonewall penalty was duly converted and we were all over the place. Perhaps things look worse from the sidelines but the poverty of our play was unrelenting. Whatever pace and penetration we had down the flanks had evaporated. We vacated the centre of the Inter Vyagra defence as Andy Faulks dropped deeper and wider to get the ball and, of course, a Farnborough defensive error could occur at any moment. Yet somehow we had about ten minutes in that second half when we gave the appearance of turning things round. Ian Shoebridge produced a peach of a corner right into the heart of the Inter Vyagra defence where it was met cleanly and emphatically by Sinisa Gracanin to bring us level again. Soon after good half-chances fell to Andy Faulks, Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin and Paul Bell but we failed to convert any of them. At the other end there was another Farnborough defensive cock-up and were were 3-4 down.
Patrice Mongelard, Robin Lipscomb and Steve Blanchard came on for Ian Shoebridge and Ian Coles – yes it was 3 for the price of 2 and this was not noticed by anyone until Patrice Mongelard pointed out to the referee that Farnborough had twelve players on the pitch. We could have had all fifteen it would not have made any difference today. In fact only fourteen of the fifteen Farnborough players got to play today. Roger French had been hoping to get on for the last five minutes but was stymied when the referee blew the final whistle – after only forty minutes. Roger – stopwatch in hand, pointed out with rare fury that this was five minutes less than the first half but to no avail – the Farnborough turkey was stuffed.
This meant that the game ended on a very sour note for Roger French. I understand that in the final tense five minutes or so young Thomas French who earlier had filled the team\'s water bottles, made it known to his father that he was, as they say “touching cloth”. Roger asked “Why?”. I do not think Thomas answered this question but I will – it is because s**t happens. And today’s game was ample proof of that but we did not deal with it very well, or as mature adults should. Roger’s mood did not lighten when one of the Inter Vyagra players complimented him on his tent (a place of refuge for the French enfants) – only to be told “Sorry mate – I am not in the mood for this”. Things did not get better in the cramped changing rooms and the mood did not lift until Roger left. The absence of food after the game would have tipped Roger French over another edge so just as well he was not there – having abandoned us, engorged and incandescent with rage (and without taking the kit quipped some who will remain nameless). We could see there were facilities there for food – after Colin Brazier purchased a bacon and egg sandwich which he savoured in front of several pairs of hungry eyes, not put off by our discussion of young Thomas’ predicament. But our opponents did not reciprocate the generosity we had shown them today. Their goalkeeper will never tire of telling the story when he scored in a famous victory over those Farnborough chumps. As I left the showers I could hear talk of “90 yards”. It could have been even further if they had not played us on the shortest and narrowest of the pitches available – a tactic that served them well, allied with our underestimation of their spirit and collective play.
No match subs were collected – and on a day when the lesser-spotted Ian Coles chequebook made an appearance. We did use the après-match though to present Paul Bell with his GAG award (that’s Gruffalo Award for Gas) from last season. Given the extent to which we manured our performance today I’ll spare you the details how he came by that award. Suffice it to say we hope he’s had the operation to remove the dead skunk from his intestines.
Man of the match – Sinisa Gracanin – responsible for the only two moments of quality that we produced today, as we drowned in a sea of complacency, mediocrity and raging ineptitude
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin