Sunday 6th October 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets ask for a thrashing, and get it at the feet of Belvedere
At the end of last week’s match report I wrote: “Another tough away fixture awaits us next week at Belvedere Vets, against an even bigger squad on an even bigger pitch than today.”
What I could not foresee is what a hash we would make of it. We went down to our heaviest defeat against today’s opponents in the four seasons we have played them. I cannot remember the last time we had what footballers call the bare eleven. We were exposed today badly, by opponents who had the numbers and the savoir-faire to make us look less than ordinary.
The day started well though – a gloriously crisp and clear autumn morning, mists burned off by the warm sun, not a breath of wind, and we travelled to the ground by the Sini route eschewing the meander through Old Bexley and its leafy environs for the direct utilitarian thrust of the M25, A2 and A206. Colin Mant had already laid the kit out by the time we got there at 9:55. I had even remembered to look for a keeper’s top as the usual one had mysteriously disappeared in Andy Faulks’ airing cupboard. Whilst rooting through the deepest corners of the FOBG kit room I found an old scarf in our club colours which I was told later belonged to our much missed Secretary, Vic Farrow. I wore it to the ground but now wish I had not, given the way things turned out.
The starting, and only, Farnborough XI were Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, Nick Waller and Grant Gray in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin, and Colin Brazier in midfield; Colin Mant and Andy Faulks in attack.
Michael (Obinna) Ugwumba and Paul Bell were on the team sheet left by co-manager Roger French (absent today thankfully) but failed to show – much to our disappointment and mild sense of outrage at the poverty of communication in a team where the management use advanced spreadsheets to plan every game and detailed maps of away grounds are circulated. We had two players making debuts – Grant Gray and Waine Hetherington. We had no linesman, no fans and I could not help reflect that seven out of the fourteen players who started the season on 1 September were not to be seen today for various reasons – including, very sadly, for Mehmet Bozyigit a career–ending injury. Our pride was certainly injured today but at least we’ll be back on the pitch next week
To be honest there is not going to be a lot of football described in today’s report, at least in my report. The Belvedere report will no doubt be different. The reasons for this will be very clear shortly.
Only in football can a team take the lead only to be hammered subsequently. What a good goal it was and in a sense it came too early, after about ten minutes. Sinisa Gracanin crowned arguably our best passing move of the game to shoot low from the edge of the box against the inside of the post and hence the back of the net. I am told we had at least one other goal scoring opportunity in the half but I must have missed it. Most of the action was in our half of the pitch, in our box to be precise as Belvedere made the most of playing with the not inconsiderable slope. Gary Fentiman was immense in goal, saving a penalty, pushing another shot onto the crossbar and post and catching the rebound, making numerous interventions and parries. The penalty came when Nick Waller\'s slight shove into the back of a home forward was spotted by the referee, but Gary got his 6ft 4in frame down well to save the spot kick. Our defence was stretched but coping and we strung a few passes on the break but these never culminated in anything. Eventually the weight of Belvedere attacks paid off as we failed to clear a corner and after some pinball in the box the ball was forced home from a yard out.
Our mood at half time was not great as we knew we had no subs whilst Belvedere brought on four or five players and we had another forty-five minutes to hold out. We were playing with the slope but a fat lot of good that did us. We came up against a very good side, used to the vastness and slope of their pitch; we were short of numbers, fitness, energy, hunger, and organisation. We got what we deserved. We held out for the first fifteen minutes but the signs were there that we would suffer. Our movement and touch were not good. We could not hold on to the ball, we were being outnumbered at the back and could not penetrate the Belvedere defence or get behind them. We got tetchy with each other and fell apart in the last half hour as Belvedere rattled five goals without reply. Some of these were avoidable like two crosses that travelled a long way and were converted at the far post, Colin\'s goal line clearance off a corner that rebounded off the back of Gary’s head into the goal – and amidst this mayhem a gem of a right foot curler into the top corner. The final whistle was a relief – the handshakes genuine as we were well beaten by a superior team and there was not a single bad tackle in the game. None of us felt particularly clever at the end of the game. However, our mood improved in the cosy clubhouse with the sandwiches, sausages and roast potatoes, as it always does, well mine anyway.
Man of the match today – a player who deserved far better than the team around him, Gary Fentiman with 63.63 % of votes cast.
Next week we visit another away ground at Inter Vyagra off Shooters Hill, where we suffered embarrassment last year, it had never happened to us there before, and where a limp performance like today’s could see heads rolling.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman