Sunday 24th February 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
A taxi for Manchip, a stupendous haircut and Farnborough firepower see off spirited West Farleigh at chilly Farrow Fields
Football fans know that when a taxi is called for a player during a game it is not good. Today we had to call a sort of taxi for a player before the game. News had come in the morning that Darren Burkett had picked up an injury on Saturday and would not be able to add to the only clean sheet we had kept this season. So Toby Manchip had to be recalled to the side from his indefinite loan spell at short notice. Being the great club man that he is, Toby responded to the SOS and Ian Shoebridge (who lives a few doors up from Toby) was dispatched. He returned without Toby who only wanted a lift to Chelsfield station to pick up his car. Still it was relief all round when Toby turned up. Relief would not have been the emotion when Mick O’Flynn turned up and took off his woolly hat to reveal the sort of haircut that leaves little hair behind, which I can only describe as medieval (the last time I saw anything like it was when watching the film “In the name of the Rose”). With a papal election in the offing perhaps “Irish Errol” fancied his chances. Still the sight of Roger French and Mick together caused a few chuckles.
Our shivering thirteen today were Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit, Nick Waller and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Andy Faulks and Rob Lipscomb in attack. Roger French and Chris Bourlet completed our happy feet on the sidelines. Thomas and Isabelle French + arctic tent, and Jane (Ian’s partner) were around but could not be blamed for preferring the warmth of the clubhouse. I am not sure Master Thomas was there all the time despite his linesboy of the match award! Chris Webb appeared in the second half to witness events and contribute to the post-match analysis.
This was not the best surface to play on although we appreciated much work had been done on it during the week. It was drier than last Sunday but much harder and bobbly and some moulded footwear could be seen. There was a cold wind as well that added to the challenging conditions. None the less we had a great start to the game. We were three goals up after twenty-five minutes of sustained pressure, abundant possession, slick passing and good finishing. Mehmet Bozyigit had picked up where he left off last week, perhaps still miffed at the goal that was “stolen” from him, as he found the net after ten, and again after twenty minutes. His first goal came after a shot from Shoebridge could only be parried by the West Farleigh keeper into Mehmet’s path for a cool close range finish. For his second Mehmet had galloped on to a through ball from Andy Faulks for another silky finish. Rob Lipscomb added a third goal after twenty-five minutes with a powerful volley that dipped and came off the underside of the bar into the net.
At that point I could not foresee a West Farleigh rally – even when Ian Shoebridge had to go off injured on the half hour to be replaced by Chris Bourlet. As often happens when Ian departs we lost cohesion and purpose. Maybe we got complacent, felt that we could overrun the West Farleigh defence which to their credit always tried to play their way out of trouble despite the ease with which we could intercept and win the ball around their box. I should have guessed that things would not be that easy when Andy Faulks missed a one-to-one and later rolled the ball against the post after beating the keeper. One moment we were buzzing round the West Farleigh box and trying to make a corner count and the next they had broken down our right, left without cover, a bit like Mick O’Flynn’s head, and we had conceded a goal despite Toby getting his hand to the scoring shot. A few minutes later we were denied a seen-them-given penalty for handball only for West Farleigh to be awarded one at the other end. Steve Blanchard had shouldered West Farleigh’s “Tintin” a bit too vigorously and blatantly in the box and nobody could quarrel with referee Mick Gearing’s decision. “Tintin” was quite a thorn in our side, skilful, energetic, quick feet, slight but wiry build, not tall, ginger quiff, feisty. Toby managed to palm the penalty onto the post but the rebound fell kindly to the penalty taker. The last ten minutes of the first half undoubtedly belonged to West Farleigh, suddenly full of belief and hope. We were probably more relieved than they were to hear the half time whistle.
Patrice Mongelard made way for Roger French at half time. I don’t think our play improved. Roger was subdued today and surprisingly was not involved in the two unsavoury incidents shared firstly by “Tintin” and Rob Lipscomb, and “Tintin” again as he threatened Chief Super Bourlet with a swinging handbag. After ten minutes of the second half Andy Faulks, who else, brought us some relief as he scored a peach of a goal. He produced a low volley from the edge of the box, where he had cunningly drifted as we took a corner, which kept low as it travelled at speed through a forest of legs, including Nick Waller’s which opened at the right moment, to find the bottom corner. A few minutes later Andy scored again, an even better goal, as he cushioned a high ball from Mehmet with his head on the run, advanced into the box and lofted the ball over the keeper. Patrice Mongelard and Ian Shoebridge came back on for Mick O’Flynn and Nick Waller with about twenty-five minutes left.
Amazingly we then went 6-2 up when Rob Lipscomb too got to the end of a through ball on the right, drew the keeper, and executed a shot of similar technical quality as Andy’s, to score in the same spot. To their credit West Farleigh did not give up and would have felt pretty hard done by at that point. 6-2 became 6-3 when they played their way through our defence for a well-taken goal. There was time for Andy Faulks to get his hat-trick (his twenty-eighth goal for us this season in twenty-one games) as the keeper hesitated with a back pass forced by Patrice Mongelard pressing a defender, and Andy closed him down and took the ball off him and calmly rolled it into the West Farleigh net. But that was not the end of the scoring – West Farleigh got the last goal of the match with an unmarked header from a corner after Chris Bourlet and Toby Manchip decided to impersonate Easter Island deities. Toby was to redeem himself with a stunning point blank save in the dying seconds. His contribution carried on after the final whistle as he helped take the nets down quickly (so he could get to the bar pronto) with the help of a piece of wood he had picked in the rambles when he went to retrieve the ball in the woods and fields behind the goal. Despite the odd French-free contretemps the final whistle handshakes were genuine after a competitive and fair game.
Needless to say – in spite of the cold we had a pretty warm feeling inside today as we tucked into Pam Shoebridge’s fare. Toby – who had been absent for a while, asked me the secret of the special bread roll I get from Pam. Despite Toby’s Oscar-winning performance I thought it would no longer be special if I told him. Still another performance like today from him and I may just have a word with Pam on his behalf.
Man of the match – in a clean vote without assistance from family members, Toby Manchip – the prodigal son, “Farnborough’s No 5 keeper”, back with a very safe pair of hands, and a slimmer waistline I thought, to warm the cockles of our hearts and break West Farleigh’s.
Man of the match: Toby Manchip