Sunday 15th December 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough pressure too much for Old Tamponians
Less than twenty-eight days had elapsed since our last encounter with Old Tamponians, and here we were again, half of that period later – to play intelligent passing football without tension. Of the fourteen Farnborough players who had featured in the match a fortnight ago – only eight were back today. In fact I felt a bit like I had been dropped in it by absent co-manager Roger French when it became clear that we would have not only the bare twelve players today but we would also be without a recognised goalkeeper. But we were hailing the return of Rob “Arnie” Lipscomb after a long lay-off due to a bodybuilding injury who said he would be back, as well as of Ian Coles after a shorter absence due to a troublesome hamstring.
We had a few more fans than in recent weeks (though sadly still no sign of the French kids, allegedly out on a Christmas treat with papa). The Farnborough home crowd consisted of Ian Shoebridge (who took care of a few other bits round the clubhouse), Jane Martin, Rebecca Coles and club President Ian Couchman. The latter was enjoying one of the perks of the job – a sausage sarnie prepared by Pam Shoebridge, which he munched happily, and with too much relish for my liking, as half time approached.
So I took one for the team today by going between the sticks. I did something even more risky with the kit, more on that later. Our starting XI were therefore Patrice Mongelard in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Mehmet Bozyigit in defence; Chris Webb, Waine Hetherington, Martin Warwick and Robin Lipscomb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Colin Mant in attack. Paul Bell was out in a well-ventilated area, running the line, chuckling to himself about the gasification of brassicas in his lower intestine. I had made the schoolboy error of sitting next to him earlier in the changing room.
Old Tamps were much the same squad to me, with the addition of a regular keeper whilst Farnborough had gone the other way with an irregular keeper. If my team mates had any anxieties about me playing in goal they kept them quiet, at least until the quarter hour mark when Old Tamps forward (ex-Farnborough) Andy Smith sprung the offside trap about forty yards from goal and was able to carry the ball deep into our box to score from close range with a smart finish preceded by the usual dummy. That was to be the last time our offside trap would fail today.
We knew we could match our opponents – we were enjoying the greater possession and it was a matter of getting behind their defence and of being patient. And so we probed down both flanks, with the fullbacks joining in and we kept the ball in the Old Tamps half as much as we could. After twenty-five minutes Martin Warwick made way for Paul Bell, and Robin Lipscomb brought his energy and verve to bear in the centre of midfield. Our equaliser followed on the half hour – and it was a superb twenty-five yard volley from Chris Webb’s left foot as the ball dropped from a great height. The Old Tamps keeper played a part in the goal, but then again you could say that about most keepers who attempt a save and get their hands to the ball. There was no need for the dubious goals committee to adjudicate.
The flow in the last quarter of an hour was heavy towards the Old Tamps goal. Waine Hetherington had a good chance to give us the lead but put his shot from five yards out against the crossbar. Waine was to make amends five minutes later with a delightful through ball that played Colin Mant in behind the Old Tamps defence. Colin applied a minty-cool finish to give us a 2-1 lead which we held until the break.
Martin Warwick came back on after the half-time oranges at right back whilst Colin Mant went to exercise his arm flagging Old Tamps players offside. I cannot remember a game with so many offsides given against our opponents. The Old Tamps players protested of course but their own management could see the absolute fairness of the decisions. One of their repeat offenders was cheered off by both sets of players when he left the clubhouse. Thinking on it after the game it struck me that I was, as often, the last defender but I could not be playing anyone onside because I was the goalkeeper. Simples.
The second half was if anything even better from our perspective. The offside trap worked a treat. The central pairing at the heart of our defence were solid and mobile. We had good platforms to build on through the fullbacks and the midfield was competing well with the strongest elements of the Old Tamps side. Colin Brazier went off after twenty minutes to be replaced by replaced by Colin Mant, with Waine Hetherington slotting into the left back position with ease, another brilliant tactical move by today’s manager.
A little after midway through the second period we scored the best collective goal of the match to give us a much sought after two goal cushion. It was clear that the fourth goal of this match would be crucial – we could not rule out Old Tamps getting it because of their all round quality but I think we wanted it just a bit more today. There was good interplay between the midfield and the forward line, with four or five passes strung together before Andy Faulks crossed from the left; the connection was missed in the centre of the six-yard box only for Martin Warwick who had ventured deep into Old Tamps territory to lash the ball home from a tight angle wide on the right – so tight in fact that the ball came off the inside of the near post before nestling into the net at the other extremity of the goal.
There was time in the last ten minutes for Colin Mant to practise the Ronaldinho “blind pass” which according to the piece in the Sunday Times today consists of “- eyes glance one way, very deliberately, and foot sends the ball another”. Andy Faulks had broken through in a one on one and the Old Tamps keeper had made the save but Andy got to the rebound and crossed to the far post to the unmarked Colin Mant. As they say in football my granny would have scored that one. That was a glaring miss – good thing it did not matter by then. What mattered more for Colin though was his near miss today. He had just enough time to retrieve his “precious” from inside his glove, inside the pocket of his missing FOBG rain jacket, inside the kit bag, before I took it away. I would not fancy explaining the absence of my wedding ring to Mrs M. I had, however, to explain to Mrs M why I had taken the kit home today – “twice already this season and it is not even Christmas”. “I am glad you mention Christmas” I said in reply – “Father Christmas is good to those who show forgiveness and tolerance”.
The mood in the clubhouse was very good – not only because of the excellent spirit in which the game was played, under the stewardship of referee Mick Gearing, but with many Old Tamps players enjoying our hospitality, including the hot sausages which the club President had not managed to eat, and other usual delicacies provided by Pam Shoebridge, with help from Jane Martin and Ian Shoebridge.
Men of the match today – three of them, like the wise men who start to do their packing at around this time of year - Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and Waine Hetherington.
Man of the match: Blanchy, Colesy & Wainey