Sunday 10th February 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Roger (briefly) & Co KO Sanco
Before I chronicle today’s events I must, by popular demand, own up to having, in the recollection of my team mates, played a not insignificant part in last week’s first goal by Staplehurst & Monarchs. It seems I played the scorer onside. I did not see it myself but then again I am not sure I want to sound like Arsene Wenger. So apology offered. Back to today.
We have to be grateful to the Farnborough ground staff and management for being able to play today’s game. The surface was not ideal but playable nonetheless in the moisture that hung in the air like a mist, occasionally worsening to the thin drizzle level. A reminder of the precariousness of fixtures at this time of year came with the news that our Young Vets\' game was off – their fourth consecutive cancellation. I dread to think what such a sequence would do to Roger French, although he did find a way to disturb the peace. More on “may blow a gasket” French later.
With the welcome return of Sinisa Gracanin and Andy Smith to our ranks we were able to start like this: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit, Rob Lipscomb and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Paul Bell, Roger French and Chris Bourlet completed the squad. In the absence of Mick Gearing, Nick Kinnear took the referee’s whistle.
We have not had much success against Sanco – particularly playing away, and we like if possible to put things right in the home fixture – something we were not able to do for the last two seasons because of the weather.
The pattern of the game was set fairly early – we had a lot of possession, fluent passing and put Sanco on the back foot. It felt like it would only be a matter of time before the dam broke. Our first goal came after a quarter of an hour or so when Mehmet Bozyigit (a constant thorn in Sanco’s side) glided into the box from the right wing to collect a perceptive and dangerous through ball from Ian Shoebridge, with his back to the Sanco goal, roll the defender, swivel and lash the ball into the net from no more than five or six yards out. It felt like only a matter of time before the next goal would follow, at the same end, as we buzzed round the Sanco box and took turns to shoot. Sinisa Gracanin put a twenty-yarder against the base of the post and other chances came and went.
We must have got a little too comfortable as Sanco managed to conjure an equaliser much against the run of play, from a ball over the top that Steve Blanchard seemed to have under control as he looked to shepherd it back to Gary in our goal. But Steve had underestimated the power and pace of the burly Sanco forward who caught up with him on the sticky surface and brushed Steve aside (no mean feat) and went on to guide the ball under Gary’s body to bring the scores level. For the avoidance of doubt I should say that I played no part in that goal. But soon after, in a pre-arranged move, I made way for Paul Bell who came to play as a cunningly disguised left-sided attacker from defence.
On the half hour the same Shoebridge-Bozyigit combination worked its magic with an almost identical move with an intelligent ball from Ian that gave Mehmet his second goal with a low crisp finish. The rest of the half belonged to us. Our superior movement in defence, midfield and up front allowed our passing game to flourish and we caused all sorts of problems to Sanco without pulling further ahead as Rob Lipscomb, Mehmet, Andy Smith and Andy Faulks all had decent half-chances, with the latter finding the base of the other post in a one-to-one.
Andy Smith gave us the two-goal cushion we deserved ten minutes from half-time when he was found in space he had created on the edge of the box by Andy Faulks, and was unerring with his right foot. 3-1 at half-time was no more than we deserved. Such was the extent of our passing that I commented from the dugout that it was like watching Brazil – only for Ian Coles’ partner to point out that it would be warmer in Brazil (and there might be Samba girls too I thought wistfully).
Roger French and Chris Bourlet came on for Ian Shoebridge and Andy Faulks at half-time. This seemed to unsettle us and Sanco had their best spell in the game, without it must be said creating any clear cut chances. In fact the clearest chances fell to us – Paul Bell had a golden opportunity in a one-to-one that the Sanco keeper did well to keep out. Andy Smith fashioned a one-to-one with a barnstorming run from the halfway line but his last touch was a tad heavy and the Sanco keeper intervened. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Sanco keeper kept the score respectable as they say.
We could not really settle and things got a bit tetchy and after only about fifteen minutes Roger French, who else, got into an altercation with at least two Sanco players and the referee Nick Kinnear had no choice but to let Roger go. Roger took the referee’s invitation to leave the pitch and Patrice Mongelard was back on earlier than planned. Immediately we recovered our fluency. It seemed only a matter of time before Paul Bell would put one away but the next goal came from Sanco. One moment we were camped in their box with a corner and the next there was a breakaway down our right and the burly and deceptively quick Sanco forward was able to carry the ball a long way even past our quickest defender, before slipping it past Gary via the post from two yards out. In days gone past we might have buckled but not any more. Andy Smith settled our nerves with an exquisite finish, left-footed this time from the edge of the box that found the proverbial postage stamp under the angle of bar and post. Soon after Andy left the pitch saying he had or done enough and Andy Faulks sauntered back on.
The last quarter of an hour was not quite the Alamo but you get the idea. Paul Bell finally got the ball in the net but was (harshly we thought) ruled offside. Referee Nick Kinnear had to cope with some angry and frustrated Sanco protestations and mutterings but they are not that kind of team and nothing got out of hand. You might say that Nick had lanced the boil earlier.
There was time for a Brazilian moment as Patrice Mongelard playing in an advanced position from left back, swerved past his marker and threaded a pass of terrible beauty that split the Sanco defence and eased silkily into the path of an unmarked Andy Faulks who was able to put his name on the score sheet by tucking a low shot into the bottom corner. And that was it – a satisfying performance that put us in a good mood to enjoy Pam Shoebridge’s fare. Our opponents certainly did and it was good to see so many of them there in the clubhouse and at the bar. It is not true that I consumed as many chicken legs as the whole Sanco team put together. Nor is it true that the chicken came with a label that said “may contain horse”. Still we performed like thoroughbreds today – including our two men of the match – a fine pair today in Mehmet Bozyigit and Andy Smith, who shared four very good goals between them.
Man of the match: Andy Smith & Mehmet Bozyigit