Sunday 6th April 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough nick the three points for Vic
You might think that playing the Metropolitan Police Super Vets on their turf would not be the right time to indulge in a spot of larceny. You would be right, and our opponents would have been left wondering about the daylight robbery that took place under their noses as Farnborough mounted a successful smash and grab raid to pocket all three points. Once again the weather from one Sunday to the next was a meteorological conundrum wrapped in a mystery that would have taxed the finest brains in the Met. The rain was less unwelcome than the wind but we knew we would be playing on one of the best pitches on our calendar, and in a rather grand setting.
While we were getting changed we reminisced about Farnborough/Met Police games of the past, and it was fair to say that the long arm of the law had prevailed more often than not, because of their robust no-nonsense tactics and their disciplined approach to the game. Talking of discipline we commented on the North Korean situation whereby the ruling dictator, the management if you like, had imposed his hairstyle on the male population with the smack of firm government. Colin Mant noted that the Senior Vets management hairstyle – short, receding, greying – was now embraced by half the team and soon local hairdressers would know exactly what was required if one asked for a “Farnborough”. I mention this simply so you can note the breadth of analytical discourse among the Farnborough Senior Vets.
The Met Police team had not aged at all since we beat them 3-2 at our place on 17 November. Indeed there were several new faces which would account for the improved performances they had been registering this season. They had a good mix of less experience and more experience and they provided an excellent approachable referee – “call me Clive if you wish or if you are in the forces it is “Sir””, who took the trouble to explain the off-side rule to both teams before kick-off. He also kindly allowed us a minute’s silence, impeccably observed, to mark the passing, exactly a year ago, of Vic Farrow, our much-loved Club Secretary. Vic would have enjoyed today’s result.
We had fourteen players for this job: Gary Fentiman in goal, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier, Ian Lyons and Nick Waller in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks in attack. Roger French, Chris Bourlet and Steve Palmer completed our raiding party. Isabelle and Thomas French were the sum of our away support.
When the game started it felt like it took us quite a while to get a feel of the ball. The Met had a good number of ball players in their midfield, a couple of tricky wingers, a solid black and blue line at the back which kept us at bay. We had the advantage of playing with the wind and that was a help to us, as it would help our opponents later. It was not a half of many chances. We scored first after about fifteen minutes thanks to Andy Faulks, wearing unfamiliar and oversize footwear, on account of having mislaid his boots as he could not remember where he’d left them last night. Andy had slipped behind the Met Police defence, sprung the offside trap down the right wing where there was plenty of space unutilised, and advanced unchallenged on goal from a lateral position which made a direct shot too selfish. So Andy squared the ball to Waine Hetherington who had read the opportunity and he was left with a tap-in. If Waine’s celebration appeared a tad muted it was because he had scored against his employer, not a good career move, and in the context of today’s game, I suppose you could call it an inside job.
We had a very good opportunity to edge further head when a classy back heel by George Kleanthous on the edge of the box played Colin Mant in on goal unchallenged. From three yards out Colin steadied himself and sought to apply a mint-cool finish by placing the ball low to the keeper’s left but he had sacrificed power for guile and the keeper was equal to the tame shot. On the half hour though Andy Faulks capitalised on a defensive lapse, raced clear of his markers, and showed Colin how it is done, with a low precise finish that entered the net in the bottom corner. We nearly got a third after a corner from Patrice Mongelard led to some frantic moments in the Met Police box with bodies being thrown in the way of several successive Farnborough attempts on goal. At the other end there were not too many scares for Gary. Our defence marshalled by Ian Lyons took pride in limiting our opponents. When they did avoid the off-side trap their crosses were over-hit and they never committed enough players forward to capitalise on whatever came their way.
Although we led 2-0 at half time we were anxious about the second half. The Met now had the wind in their favour, in fact the wind had strengthened, they brought on a big unit to play up front while we made three changes with Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant and Colin Brazier making way for Roger French, Chris Bourlet and Steve Palmer. This gave us three new players in defence. It is fair to say that we were under the cosh as the Met kept us kettled in our half and the shots and crosses rained in on our goal. Gary Fentiman was immense as he pulled off save after save – from close range, long range, high, low. It was good to watch from a neutral point of view but there were no neutrals there. We struggled to reverse the flow. George Kleanthous, Andy Faulks and Rob Lipscomb worked hard to carry the ball into the Met Police half. The midfield was congested, our penalty box crowded and we had to dig deep. Roger French took one in the midriff from one of our own clearances and was winded.
We weathered the onslaught until we made changes with twenty minutes left as Colin Brazier, Colin Mant and Patrice Mongelard came back on for Waine Hetherington, Rob Lipscomb and Nick Waller. We still had to defend but had a greater degree of control as we pushed the play back into the Met Police half. We earned a couple of corners, one of which was muffed by the self-proclaimed corner specialist, Patrice Mongelard. And just when we could see the finishing line, in the 90th minute, the Met got their reward. Colin Mant assisted the Met with their endeavours by dwelling on the ball in a dangerous area and from the ensuing offensive move our defensive line was breached and the ball was tucked in under Gary’s body at the near post from close range (a bit like Cech against PSG last week). There was barely time to re-start the game.
The Met Police hospitality was in keeping with the grand Victorian splendour of The Warren as two trays of tasty sandwiches and roast potatoes appeared in our midst. We all tucked in, some more than most – Roger French had the last two roast potatoes – to join the other eleven he’d had on top of the sandwiches. That will do wonders for his midriff. “Off the record”, on the comfy leather sofa, Colin Mant confided in your match reporter that he was obviously pleased that George was doing such a good job, but his confidence was low and the golden chance he missed was one of those where he had had just too much time and space. However he was determined not to let Waine Hetherington or Rob Lipscomb score more goals than him.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman