Sunday 2nd December 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Old Tamponians Supervets unable to hold back Farnborough Senior Vets who come from behind to win
“Football wins” said Paul Bell on a day when the bright sunshine got at the early morning frost (with a delayed kick-off courtesy of the referee). In a sense it did, as a well-contested game played in very good spirit left us feeling rather pleased to get maximum away points against opponents that have proved quite difficult to beat in the past.
The Farnborough team that Old Tamponians were aiming to stop today consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Nick Waller, Steve Blanchard and Mick O’Flynn in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit and Paul Bell in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Roger French was our twelfth man with Ian Coles held up somewhere by a blockage on the M25.
The extended warm-up was rather pleasant on a bright, sunny, dry and still day and we could sense the ground getting softer as we passed the ball around and took shots at goal wondering if we’d look that good when actual play started. In one way we did and in another we did not. We knew that Old Tamponians moved the ball about well and we sought to match them. The early chances were ours: a Sinisa Gracanin surge in the box, and a thumping header by Andy Smith from a Mehmet Bozyigit corner were the highlights and initial signs of promise. We felt comfortable but without really dominating the play.
It was a surprise when Old Tamponians took the lead about ten minutes into the match. A mix-up on the right of our defence saw the overlapping left back from Old Tamponians advance to the edge of our box and from out wide send over a cross that did not seem dangerous or destined for anyone until Gary Fentiman made it look like a cunningly disguised shot that squirmed out of his grasp and trickled over the line. As Gary pounded the now softer turf it was clear that he was disappointed with the way he had dealt with the situation. Five minutes later another Farnborough moment of carelessness with the ball in the corridor of uncertainty between midfield and back four resulted in a rather well struck shot from twenty yards out that Gary was left to pick out of the back of our net. We could not believe that we were 2-0 down after twenty minutes. We’d had twice as many half chances and shots on goal, and twice as much possession, than our opponents but had nothing to show for it.
Our collective play and team spirit have been improving in recent weeks and a passing move involving Nick Waller, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Smith was crowned with a well-taken goal from close range by Sinisa Gracanin who had anticipated Andy’s through ball, penetrated the Old Tamponians box, beat the defender with some neat footwork and placed the ball low into the bottom corner. The last twenty minutes or so of the half were a bit of a purple patch for us. Ian Coles had finally arrived and moved to the centre of our defence as Paul Bell made way. Andy Smith played Mehmet Bozyigit through with an exquisite ball that was begging to be put away but Mehmet blazed the ball over the bar from ten yards out. Our belief that we would get back on terms was vindicated when Mick O’Flynn produced an audacious thirty-yarder from out wide on our right to connect with a Nick Waller lay-off and take everyone by surprise, not least the Old Tamponians keeper as the ball dropped into the net at the near post with a minimum of fuss. The game was delicately poised at half time but we had more cause for optimism.
Patrice Mongelard made way for Roger French after the oranges as both teams sought to break the deadlock. The first fifteen minutes of the second half were largely inconclusive from both sides but with Farnborough having to defend more than attack (including a very good last ditch tackle from Roger French in the six-yard box). Things did not look too bright for us when Andy Faulks took himself off – saying he was not feeling 100% having had a bug for the last couple of weeks. He was not quite his normal self and the energy and hunger were not there. Paul Bell came on for Andy and went up to create space in the opposition box in that unique manner of his – more on that later.
I thought to myself at that point that a draw would not be bad result. Old Tamponians were coping with the flow of our attacks and causing problems of their own in our defence. Midway through the half Patrice Mongelard came on as the holding midfielder to replace Nick Waller. We had something to defend then as Paul Bell had yet again found space in the box after some good work on the left by Mehmet Bozigit, and turned to convert a half chance from about six yards out – once again in the right place at the right time to give us a lead that was deserved and all the sweeter as we had reversed a two-goal deficit.
There was still time for Old Tamponians to seek to force a draw and they had one very good opportunity from six yards out at the far post that thankfully for us was put just wide. We had to defend resolutely and in numbers but we did so with composure and spirit. There was even time for the referee to book Gary Fentiman in the final minutes for time wasting after he tarried over a goal kick. It felt odd to see someone other than Roger go into the book so to speak but I should report that after seeing red a few weeks ago Roger seems to have mellowed (in the way that dormant volcanoes do sometimes). Still it makes for a better atmosphere.
The final whistle was greeted with some relief by the Farnborough players and we sauntered off the pitch in the warm sunshine after warm handshakes with worthy opponents whom we expect to test us at Farrow Fields in a fortnight.
After hot showers there was time for cold beer and a tray of sandwiches, and chips and sausages that were placed right in front of me (not just for me though). We debated briefly how far out from goal Mick O’Flynn was when he attempted his cross but as he did not buy the match reporter a beer he’ll have to do with thirty yards. It was decided that Ian Shoebridge would break the news of Gary Fentiman’s booking to Vic Farrow face to face.
Man of the match – Ian Shoebridge full of running that Old Tamponians could not staunch.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge