Sunday 17th February 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets open the floodgates late
Today was a lovely day for football, dry, still, bathed in glorious sunlight, under blue skies - all a bit at odds with the state of the pitch which whilst not quite looking like the Somme had seen better days. Once again we have to be grateful to the Farnborough ground staff and management for being able to play today’s game and I was able to pass my thanks in person to grassmeister Keith Beston. Apart from one squidgy area on one side of the centre circle I could not see any impediment to being able to pass the ball too.
Once again we mustered fourteen players: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit, Rob Lipscomb and John Tallis in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Paul Bell, Roger French and Nick Waller completed the squad. There was an initial frisson of uncertainty mixed with anticipation, about whether Andy Faulks would arrive in time, and in what state, after his risqué birthday celebrations judging by the raunchy reports from some eye witnesses but he seemed no worse than usual when he appeared with the news that he had scored four times yesterday, playing for his Saturday side I assume. Mick Gearing was back as the man in black, allegedly with instructions from the upper echelons of the club to send Roger French off at the first whiff of trouble. Former players Trevor Stewart, Nick Kinnear, Chris Webb + two little Webbs, and the two petits Francais in their tent made up our base camp.
Our fans told us that for the first twenty-five minutes the ball was not in our half. I think that is a slight exaggeration but you get the idea. We scored after ten minutes in a fluid clinical move with three passes – as the ball travelled from Gary Fentiman to Patrice Mongelard, hence to Andy Smith before being invitingly transferred into the path of Andy Faulks to be tucked low into the bottom corner. This was no more than we deserved. We managed in that first half of an hour to miss three one-to-ones involving Mehmet Bozyigit, Andy Faulks and Andy Smith, and to hit the post and miss the rebound (John Tallis both times) from a yard out. Despite the sticky pitch in places our passing game was much in evidence with John Tallis and Ian Shoebridge exhibiting much midfield craft, energy and composure. Mick O’Flynn and Mehmet Bozyigit gave the Catford defence a torrid time down the right. I think we led by about five corners to one in that first half hour and for every Catford pass there were three or four Farnborough ones. This said we lost a bit of our fluency and pace on the half hour with the introduction of Nick Waller and Paul Bell for John Tallis and Rob Lipscomb. To the uninitiated in the Roger French dark art of substitution it may have appeared that John was paying the price of failure for missing an open goal from a yard out only moments before the substitution.
In football one goal is rarely enough and a failure to capitalise when on top can be costly. A couple of times Catford had committed numbers down our right, moving at pace towards the goal and creating a genuine goal threat. We did not heed the warning and were exposed on one such break. Although Gary called for the loose ball he was not able to get to it before the Catford forward, who went round him and calmly guided the ball into an empty net. The last quarter of an hour of the first half was a very even affair – with our opponents sensing the loss of momentum and uncertainty that had crept into our play. Suddenly they had more energy and belief and we were no longer dominant. At one point Gary Fentiman made a thirty yard dash from his line to only just get to a through ball. I pointed out to him in my best Anglo-Saxon vernacular that he acted rashly and foolishly – but he got away with it, on this occasion.
At half-time - to be fair to our opponents - it was difficult to call the result of this game. After a very bright start and a string of missed chances we had let Catford wander back into the game and surely they would have entertained hopes, at that point, of getting something out of it. We could not quite believe that the scores were level and I went to ruminate about this running the line with my young apprentice Master Thomas French, whilst French père went to see if he could last forty-five minutes without disturbing the entente cordiale. As I commented to young Thomas we did not really improve in the first few exchanges of that half. I suppose there were two turning points in the game. Firstly, early in that half Rob Lipscomb came back on for Andy Smith who had “forgotten to take his tablets”, and moved into an advanced position. After twenty minutes John Tallis and Patrice Mongelard came back on for Ian Shoebridge and Ian Coles and we began to recover the poise and panache we had in the first half hour except this time with the ability to finish. With twenty-five minutes left we finally restored our lead with the second turning point. In a crowd scene from a set piece Nick Waller found himself unmarked about ten yards from goal, in a wide position from where he caressed a volley with the outside of his left foot into a cunningly disguised flight over the goalkeeper, into the space behind the goal line to beat a despairing lunge by a Catford defender to dig the ball out. Not the prettiest of goals but the most welcome. 2-1 to Farnborough.
So where you might ask did the next six goals come from? Well, my memory is not quite what it was but I think this was the rapid sequence:
• 3-1: a crisp passing move ended with a peach of a cross from Mehmet Bozyigit on Rob Lipscomb’s meaty forehead at the far post without Rob having to break his stride to score;
• 4-1: Rob intercepted a poor Catford clearance in the area known as the mixer, drove forward and drilled the ball home:
• 5-1: Rob completes his hat-trick after his first attempt is parried but he gets to the ball while on the ground to force it over the line from close range.
• 6-1: Rob heads the ball into the path of Mehmet Bozyigit who advances on goal and lashes a low goal-bound shot which beats the keeper but is then helped over the line (to Mehmet’s anguish) by selfish birthday boy Andy Faulks (who was awarded the goal by the dubious goals committee);
• 7-1: Rob plays Paul Bell in to slide the ball home with a typical poacher’s finish;
• 8-1: Mehmet gets a richly deserved goal (he had also hit the bar with a rasping shot amidst our feeding frenzy) as he crowns a solo run with a crisp finish into the bottom corner (and no Andy Faulks within ten yards).
As you can imagine the mood in the clubhouse was buoyant helped in no small way by the warm sunshine which heralded the coming of spring, and Pam Shoebridge’s excellent fare which included 100% beef sandwiches and nothing that was in the 2:40 at Kempton Park last Saturday if you know what I mean.
Man of the match – by several furlongs, Rob Lipscomb with three goals and two assists in a devastating second spell on the pitch.
Man of the match: Rob Lipscomb