Sunday 17th November 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Singular goal gives Farnborough the edge
I would like to say that Farnborough Senior Vets were superb against the Met Police Super Vets today but that would be perverting the course of justice. Not a good idea against the Met. The truth is, for all our superior possession and abundance of passing, our doughty opponents were never out of the game; and whilst we deserved our 3-2 victory we were not entirely convincing in the final third, at the business end of the pitch and it took two goals from full backs to breach the black and blue line.
The weather was dry, if overcast and although the air was crisp there was no wind. The pitch played true but still bore signs of last week’s excessive precipitation. Roger French was back, with a promise of good behaviour, and we had others back to give us a crowded dressing room with sixteen players. The visitors’ dressing room was less crowded and that is how we ended up loaning them two players – Nick Waller and Chief Super Chris Bourlet (in his natural environment so to speak) so they could match our starting XI, who were – Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Colin Brazier, Patrice Mongelard and Steve Blanchard in defence; Colin Mant, Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Andy Faulks and Obi Ugwumba in attack. Scott Dowie, Waine Hetherington and Roger French waited in the van round the corner. Mick Gearing did his usual star turn with the whistle.
We started very well. The first quarter of an hour saw a dominant Farnborough moving the ball well, as we kettled the Met back into their half. We probed at will down both wings and put several crosses into the Met Police box to no effect. The final ball was never quite there and their rather good centre half was always the last shield we could not break down and we did not fashion any clear cut chances. It was with the run of play that we took the lead after fifteen minutes with Colin Brazier finishing emphatically high into the roof of the net from a yard out after Chris Webb had followed up his own shot which was parried wide by the keeper, and rolled the ball unselfishly and invitingly into the centre of the box for Colin arriving like the Bodiam Express. This was not the only success for a Farnborough full back today – more on that later. Five minutes later Michael weighed an excellent pass into space behind the Met Police defence and Andy Faulks arrived to whip the ball first time beyond the Met Police keeper from the edge of the box with a trademark vintage finish. Scott Dowie and Waine Hetherington joined the game midway through the second half as Ian Shoebridge and Colin Mant took a breather. Scott almost added to our score immediately after arriving as he placed a low shot from inside the box which the Met Police keeper did very well to parry, diving low to his left.
I am sure I was not the only one at that point who felt more goals would come. The trouble is they came at the other end. Suddenly the centre of our midfield went soft, more dominoes than dynamos, and the nippy Met Police forward darted into space to latch on to a through ball and squeezed the ball between Gary’s outstretched hand and the near post. This was a crisp finish which gave the Met heart and they got their reward ten minutes later with an almost identical goal from the same player – except that this time he got closer to Gary and took a bit of a knock as the two players came together, without malice. Roger French dropped his linesman’s flag, like a good Samaritan, to bring some watery relief, but thankfully the Met Police player was able to continue. There was an unwilling and collective suspension of disbelief on our part as we tasted the half time oranges, with the score at 2-2. We knew why the scores were level but had not expected it – so all credit to our opponents who had two shots of any meaning at our goal and scored with both and never lost their belief. I should mention too the excellent spirit in which they played the game. Not even Roger French could disturb the peace today.
They had a new player, a late arrival, join them at half time whilst we had early arrival Roger French go up front in lieu of Andy Faulks. Ian Coles went to warm the bench and Jane Martin and Sinisa took a break, as Roger, Colin Mant and Ian Shoebridge came on. The pattern of the first half repeated itself: more possession for Farnborough, plenty of forward momentum, several corners, many shots most off target as the Met soaked up the pressure and sought to play on the break with the nippy forward the end point. We had played about fifteen minutes of the second half when the high point of the game occurred. Patrice Mongelard, playing at right back, had been going up whenever possible to provide service to his attacking players, in particular Scott Dowie. From one such move Patrice picked up the ball wide on right about forty yards out and instead of passing wide to Scott he cut in, wrong-footing the full back and pressed forward; a Met Police midfielder was sent the wrong way and still Patrice advanced; by then the Met Police defence was breached and parting like the Red Sea as Patrice shimmied past the last defender and found himself with the goal at his mercy but with the ball on his left foot (usually and exclusively used for balance and ambulation), and only the keeper between him and a moment of ecstasy. Patrice calmly stroked the ball past the diving keeper to spark wild celebrations, and a more muted response from his team mates one of whom (who will remain nameless) was heard to say, and I quote “Oh No, Oh No, **** No” as events unfolded. With apologies to my readers - I was not going to describe my goal in as much detail but there seemed to be some misunderstanding on the part of my team mates as to what happened.
We did not know at the time that this would be the winning goal. We were making heavy weather of it up front, Roger French was shooting from impossible angles and distances as he had realised that he had fallen behind in the goalscoring charts behind both fullbacks. Andy Faulks came back midway through the second half, for Michael, to boost our firepower, and he was to produce an exquisite volley from the edge of the box that dipped too late. Ian Coles came back on to shore up our defence as Steve Blanchard departed the scene. Colin Brazier’s superb contribution also ended as Sinisa Gracanin came back on to bring some savoir-faire to the midfield. We had to defend during the final quarter of an hour. Met Police had a very good scoring opportunity which drew a smart save from an under-employed Gary Fentiman. We came closest to extending our lead when Scott Dowie slipped through for a one to one that drew a very good save from the Met Police keeper. Roger French finally put the ball in the Met Police net but it did not count, sadly I think, because he was yet again offside.
The après-match mood was most convivial with a cornucopia of goodies on offer from Pam Shoebridge. Not many of the Met Police were there so some of us had to put in a double shift at the buffet. I had the last chicken leg today as I felt I deserved it! We were joined by Toby, Helen and Oliver Manchip (the boy has pace, takes after mum I suspect). Mick O’Flynn had appeared to Gary Fentiman, badger-like in the Farnborough woods and joined us in our sett. Toby paid his annual subs and offered his thoughts on football management, life, Croatian and Peruvian matters, and my goal even though he had not seen it. Roger French had the usual trouble adding up, and at one point sought help from Master Manchip. Thomas and Isabelle French were electronically engaged. Three weary Young Vets came back tails up from their 5-2 away win to Inter Vyagra, and Ian Couchman finally put the heating on. I was late home but Mrs M was magnanimous as I had scored, or maybe it was her shopping trip to Bromley.
Man of the match: Patrice Mongelard