Sunday 8th December 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough win but do not quite convince
We had a bit of a player availability crisis this week. Waine brought his mate Phil, Colin M. called on Norman, and Roger reached out to another planet (that of eternal youth) to get Simon (who has appeared in Dr Who – no joke see Mr Danes in Christmas 2009 Dr Who story The End of Time) so we could field a side for this “local” derby, played at the Club Langley Sports Ground, overseen by suburban trains linking Eden Park and Wickham Park. Pity it was not Wicked Park I thought – robbing me of some biblical references.
In the end we parked fourteen players for this away fixture – but not all were there for the start. Once again sadly we had no fans. There are some growing concerns about the continued absence of the French enfants.
I got there first today and found the place very busy and a tad confusing. The changing rooms were not logical in their layout and it was a case of grab what you find. I secured the last changing room available furthest from the pitch, occupying it with my bag, our water bottles, first aid kit and three footballs. I went to “flex some paper” to calm pre-match nerves, in an adjoining cubicle and when I came out there was another team in the changing room but overcome by breathing difficulties they left quickly.
We were not exactly quick ourselves as the player with the kit had gone to the wrong ground and not everyone had arrived when we had to make our way to pitch number 5 where our opponents had been waiting for us, and waiting, on a bright sunny morning in the mild air (for the time of year) waving at passing trains.
Our starting XI were Tom Mihalea in goal; Chris Webb, Patrice Mongelard, Phil Anthony, and Steve Blanchard in defence; Waine Hetherington, Roger French, Simon Thomas, Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; Andy Faulks and Colin Mant in attack. Toby Manchip had been in the changing room but was nowhere to be seen. I was hoping he had not had a mishap in that cubicle, like some ex-canary down a mine. Colin Brazier was, we knew, going to be late, having taken photos of our Sunday XI in their new kit sponsored by McDonald’s, with short sleeves, back in Farnborough. Norman Harris was on the way.
The first fifteen minutes or so were quite disjointed from our perspective. It could have been the number of new players or maybe our opponents were fully warmed up and more cohesive. We had a solid back four, a sharp front line but the middle bit was a work in progress. Orpington got a grip on the game quicker than we did. We made early changes as Colin Brazier and Toby Manchip came on for Roger French and Phil Anthony. The game was evenly balanced for long periods without any serious scoring opportunities being created. We enjoyed slightly superior possession but without really imposing ourselves on the game, and we were vulnerable to the counter through a vacant midfield. However, cometh the half hour cometh the man as Patrice Mongelard broke an Orpington move on the right of our defence and the ball was fed to Mehmet Bozyigit on the wing and he had the time and poise to measure a perfect cross to the far post which was met emphatically by Andy Faulks with a sharp header, without breaking his stride, to give us a 1-0 lead. It was the sort of move that you would wish to see from a passing train. Not long after Patrice Mongelard and Andy Faulks were replaced by Phil Anthony, and the vocal and muscular presence of Norman Harris. We did not threaten another goal and in fact were a little relieved to preserve our advantage until the break. We had some hairy moments in defence and Tom’s sure handling came to our rescue more than once.
At half time Roger French, Patrice Mongelard and Andy Faulks returned with Steve Blanchard, Simon Thomas and Colin Mant joining the mums on the touchline watching the kids’ match on the adjacent pitch. I cannot say that we got better. In fact if truth be told we had a lot to thank our keeper for in that second half as he made several point blank saves, putting himself in harm’s way to block and parry shots like the five-a-side keeper he normally is. A few weeks ago Tom had caught a glancing knee in the eye and been forced to come off with a bloody nose, black eye and swelling – today he caught the eye. Orpington deserved an equaliser but instead it was Farnborough that edged further ahead. Once again the service was provided by Mehmet Bozyigit, and what service, on a plate with all the trimmings like a succulent kebab for Andy Faulks to prod home from a yard out after Mehmet had bamboozled his markers and advanced deep into the Orpington box before squaring a sitter to Andy. That was Mehmet’s third goal scoring assist in the two games since his return from “retirement”. To think Mehmet operates on only one good knee, just imagine if he had a pair of them.
Colin Mant and Simon returned for Toby Manchip and Waine Hetherington for the final third of the game and towards the end Waine came back on for Mehmet who would have come off to a standing ovation if we’d had any fans. We created more chances in the last ten minutes of the game than in the previous eighty. Most of these fell to Andy Faulks – now in search of the perfect hat-trick, again, shooting with his left foot on several occasions and wasting several good chances.
Watching the news this evening I could not help wonder if a train passenger watching Andy might harbour suspicions that Andy was doing a spot of match-fixing with all those missed opportunities! Nor can I confirm that some Far East betting syndicates have been hoping for a Roger French sending off!
2-0 remained the final score, and we felt that we had got away with it. The young referee had a trouble-free game to manage – I cannot recall a single bad tackle in the game. Orpington were disappointed but gracious in defeat.
The changing room was to prove eventful again – this time when the water just ran out with some with shampoo in their hair, those who have hair that is, and others just hanging their towels about to go in. The only one of us who didn’t mind was Andy Faulks, renowned for his services to water conservation. That was my cue to go home, eschewing the après match refreshments.
Man of the match today – Tom Mihalea for a superb and brave display in goal.
Man of the match: Tom Mihalea