Sunday 20th April 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Eynsford Easter eggs shared as Farnborough earn draw
This year’s test series against Riverside Wanderers began in the Eynsford Superbowl in surprisingly damp and wet conditions. But this 2-2 game (our fifth draw of the season which have all ended with the same result) was no damp squib, in a match that went with the slope so to speak.
Easter is always a difficult time to get 100% commitment from players who, after all, have a life and families outside the Farnborough Senior Vets experience. In fairness it is probably no different for our opponents but we did manage to attract our regular travelling support in Jane Martin, Rebecca Coles, Isabelle and Thomas French along with Michael Jnr despite the wet conditions.
The thirteen Farnborough Easter bunnies out there were John Alliston in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier, Ian Coles and Nick Waller in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks in attack; Roger French and Chris Bourlet in reserve.
The plan was to kick up the hill in the first half, and acting captain Nick Waller, a good tosser, secured the end we wanted in the first half. The Riverside twelfth man, the slope – was not out of place in the agricultural setting but incongruous with the markings of a football pitch and set the pattern of play. We had to defend and make the occasional sorties up the slope. We felt that we took greater care of the ball in the first half. Certainly our game seemed more measured, less rushed but the pressure from Riverside was building. They were to hit the post and bar in the first half and before their first goal which came off a corner as their centre forward got ahead of his marker to glance the ball home at the near post. Until then we were quietly satisfied with our resilience. Robin Lipscomb had also cleared off the line in a moment which goal line technology would have ruled in Farnborough’s favour.
At the other end our chances were few but encouraging. Colin Mant came close to getting at the end of a cross that flashed across goal from the hard-working Robin Lipscomb who was looking to shake off his groin strain from last week’s exertions; Andy Faulks had a clear unmarked header from a Patrice Mongelard cross which deserved better. What did deserve better, and got it, was a George Kleanthous cross which was met by an unmarked Colin Mant who had ghosted in the box, unmarked, to apply a deadly finish from three yards out to glance the ball into the bottom corner. Colin had earlier had a pat from the management in a private moment in the car park which appeared to have restored his confidence. This equaliser was no more than we deserved.
Yet just when we were looking to convert marginal ascendancy into goals we contrived to let Riverside edge ahead again as a clearance from John Alliston was not as he would have wished, from an unnecessary back pass I hasten to add, and the ball was put through our net by a Riverside forward who got lucky. This was a minor blemish on John’s performance which otherwise was assured and confident and we should not forget he was helping us out on a day when several of our regular keepers were absent. Still John broke the jinx of our replacement keepers getting hurt this year.
Before the half was out we were able to savour a moment when a Riverside defender who fancied himself as a big unit was nearly bounced off the pitch by our own muscle man, Obi Ugwumba, thus illustrating one of the laws of football which is that no matter how hard or tough you think you are there is always someone out there who is a tad more.
As we chased an equaliser there was a vintage moment as Sinisa Gracanin measured a through ball over the top into Andy Faulks’ path behind the Riverside defence and Andy’s first time volley over his shoulder was clean, instinctive, powerful, but off target. Before the half was out Patrice Mongelard wasted two corners, one diverted onto the near post by a Riverside outstretched boot, the other woeful.
At half time Patrice Mongelard and Obi Ugwumba made way for Roger French and Chris Bourlet. Riverside made more changes as they had more substitutes. Now that we had the slope we were quietly confident of restoring parity at least. Our nerves were settled early in the half when an Andy Faulks emphatic strike from the edge of the box, as he squeezed in between a pair of Riverside defenders, crashed against the inside of the post and nestled into the net on the opposite side of the goal. And we still had most of the half to claim maximum points. We did not – partly due to the quality of our opponents, and partly due to our own poor finishing. On balance we had more chances in the second half with Riverside now playing on the break. Patrice Mongelard, who ran the line nonchalantly, and Obi Ugwumba came back on midway through the second half for Nick Waller and Rob Lipscomb, to preserve what we had. The final minutes were frantic but inconclusive.
Roger French and Obi Ugwumba had their own private competition to see who could put a ball over the roof of the Five Bells public house behind the goal. Roger won the competition for the most slippery head as several throw-ins were propelled into touch off said bonce, like a hard Easter egg.
A draw felt like a fair result in the end. As usual between our two sides the game was played in excellent spirit and was refereed well and fairly, even a dodgy decision over a Riverside back pass was not enough to change our view.
I made my customary late surge for the Dot Cotton Award by taking the kit home for the third time this season. So did Colin Brazier but his does not count as the kit in his case was clean.
Going by our past experience in Eynsford, the hospitality from Riverside Wanderers would have been generous, lavish even, in either the Five Bells or the Castle, but only a small number of us could attend, excluding yours truly who had an appointment with a moveable feast of roast leg of lamb and some decent claret back at Chateau Mongelard. Neither could Roger French who had an appointment with a Roger Rabbit costume to secrete and dispense Easter eggs. Still we had Buffet Ambassador Extraordinaire in the shape of his immensity Nick Waller, to show our appreciation to our hosts.
We are looking forward to next week when we hope to have a special welcome for our visitors, responsible for our heaviest defeat this season, 6-1 last December, and this after we took the lead at their place.
Man of the match was a very close thing with 5 players in the running but Colin Mant deservedly topped the pile.
Man of the match: Colin Mant