Sunday 15th September 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Near normal service resumed
After last Sunday’s contretemps we were anxious to return to a more serene and familiar state of affairs. This we did today but although we won 4-1 it is fair to say that we were not entirely convincing throughout, and our opponents deserve some credit for inducing moments of doubt in our minds.
Fifteen of the sixteen involved last week were available and we made a slight variation to the front line as Andy Faulks had become unexpectedly available. The starting XI was: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Mehmet Bozyigit, Chris Webb and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Colin Mant and Ian Shoebridge in attack. Roger French, Andy Faulks, Obinna (Michael) Ugwumba and Nick Waller were the reinforcements.
Jane Martin and Rebecca Coles, a smaller than usual Michael fan club, and a prospective recruit (with partner and offspring) gave us a home crowd which topped double figures if you add Mick and Jack Hampson and Keith Beston for part of the time. Nick Kinnear took the whistle in Mick Gearing’s absence, and I am glad to report refereed an untroubled match played in excellent spirit, with fairness and calm authority, in overcast conditions as the weather shifted inexorably but slowly from late summer to autumn in the space of a couple of hours.
Here, ahead of the action, are the changes we made during the game: 25th minute: Andy Faulks for Ian Shoebridge. Half time: Roger French, Nick Waller and Obi Ugwumba for Mehmet Bozyigit, Robin Lipscomb and MIck O’Flynn. 70th minute: Mehmet Bozyigit, Mick O’Flynn, and Ian Shoebridge for Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard and Colin Mant.
For the kick-off the sides changed round – you do not see that often in Vets football but it could have been a tactical ploy on CUACO’s part. I cannot recall if the wind was a factor and I do not think the longish grass made a difference but there was a pervasive greyness which dampened the spirits. It is the only way I can explain the lackadaisical manner we went about the business at hand, or so it seemed, as passes went astray, first touches went awry, and there was a lack of sharpness and energy in our game. This said the direction of travel was indubitably towards the CUACO goal though without really troubling their keeper. A neutral observer would venture that Farnborough had 65/70% of the possession but without doing much with it. There were not many clear chances at both ends. Ian Shoebridge had what looked like the best scoring opportunity when he raced clear of the CUACO defence but could not muster the finesse to lob the advancing keeper. He was replaced soon after – the two events being unrelated of course, as Andy Faulks was brought on, and here I will pretend to read his mind “to make a difference and show us how it is done”.
As the game wore on, and the score remained 0-0, CUACO were emboldened and once or twice caused some alarm in our defence and I am sure I was not the only who was beginning to feel this was not going to be our day, a repeat of last week’s game. It was at that point with about ten minutes of the half left that we got our breakthrough. Mick O’Flynn lofted what he claims was a pass over the CUACO defence; Colin Mant had timed his run to perfection and beat the offside trap. He advanced into the box and coolly slotted the ball home. Five minutes later we had yet another corner swung in by Patrice Mongelard which discombobulated the CUACO defence with Sinisa Gracanin lashing the loose ball from the edge of the box into the net. We were 2-0 up at half time, and felt this was a fair reflection of the balance of play.
Any concerns we might have had after half time when Roger French came on to lead our attack were put to rest soon after the re-start when Andy Faulks produced a gem of a lob from twenty-five yards to increase our advantage.
Five minutes later there was another corner to Farnborough which Patrice Mongelard raced across the pitch from right back to take with his right foot, to deliver an in-swinger from left to right. Chris Webb thought the kick was more suited to a left footer given the amount of space available in that far corner of the pitch by the hedge (for the right footer) and told me not to mess it up. I told him to have more faith. Well - what can I say dear reader – I scored from the corner flag (a not uncommon occurrence as regular readers of our match reports will recall). The excessive degree of curl I had imparted to the ball, its direction and flight must have foxed the CUACO keeper as he appeared to catch the ball but it spun out of his hands into the net. My celebrations were not muted. I did not feel though that my team mates shared the exquisite joy of the moment. The most short-sighted of them started a rumour that it was an own goal, and even claimed that Colin Mant had interposed himself in the process, “got a touch” but, and this is the funny bit, had forgotten to celebrate. There were some failed attempts to disturb my mellow fruitfulness later in the dressing room but the dubious goals committee rightly confirmed that it was Mongelard 1 – French 0 so far this season.
After that I do not recall any clear chances for us. Yes we threatened the CUACO gaol and forced a few corners but with the corner specialist off the pitch by then nothing came of it. There was a Roger French attempt on goal which pretended to be a cross for Andy Faulks, Mick O’Flynn blazed a shot over after a good overlapping run, Mehmet Bozyigit almost got through a couple of times. CUACO, to their credit, never gave up and were encouraged by some of the vacant spaces appearing in our midfield. Deservedly they were to get a goal of their own from a corner that we defended rather poorly at the near post with about five minutes left just as I was beginning to feel the warm glow of another clean sheet.
Pam Shoebridge’s excellent and copious catering service was restored and I was introduced to a couple of sausage rolls. Sausages, sausage rolls, pork pies, crisps, celery sticks, plum tomatoes, spring onions, egg/corned beef sandwiches were aplenty and the mood was good in the clubhouse as Nosher French collected the monies and recorded the rightful scorers of today’s goals for posterity. I made up for not sweeping the dressing rooms for the last two games, and gambled (correctly) that Mrs M, pleased that I had scored, would not be too upset at the sight of the kit.
Man of the match for Farnborough – Sinisa Gracanin for an excellent goal which settled us, and for a lot of guile and graft in the engine room of the team.
Next week our first away game of the season, in Dulwich against SANCO, a trip that has more often than not ended in disappointment for us, and we’ll be missing a couple of key regulars.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin