Sunday 27th April 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough trickle over winning line
There is winning ugly, and then there is winning like we did today. Good thing our under-age fans had adults with them on the touchline as this was a Farnborough performance with a PG certificate. The performance mattered more than the result. The mood in the changing room after the game was flat, even though we had reversed our 6-1 loss against the same opponents four months ago. For long periods our play was no better than it was then, even though Wellcome appeared to have struggled to get the bare eleven out, and they had to swap their injured keeper with an outfield player midway through the first half.
With our numbers boosted by the return of Mehmet Bozyigit, Gary Fentiman and Ian Shoebridge there were fourteen in our welcoming party: Gary “butterfingers” Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier, Ian Coles and Waine Hetherington all over the place in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb at sea in midfield; George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks fleeting in attack; Roger French, Ian Shoebridge and Mehmet Bozygit were poised to join the carousel of changes we went through in the 90 minutes played by referee Mick Gearing.
For today’s horror show we mustered good numbers in the stands: Isabelle and Thomas French, Jane Martin and Rebecca Coles, Madame Fentiman, Vicky Tanner, old boys Mick O’Flynn and Trevor Stewart, Michael Jnr (and friend). Mick and Trevor will be thinking hard about making a comeback given what they saw with their own eyes today.
There was a disjointedness and poverty of touch in our play from the start. Our opponents had decided early doors to rely on the quick break led by their Roger who was fleet of foot and to capitalise on defensive mistakes which we began to gift to them just as we had three days before last Christmas. In his last game for us against the Met Police Super Vets Gary Fentiman had caught everything including the man of the match award, but that was then and the actualité today was very different. Indeed he suggested my match report today should just give the score and skip everything else. But then I thought of you, my dear readers.
We had an early opportunity to take the lead when a free kick from Patrice Mongelard found Rob Lipscomb a yard out from goal with the keeper to beat but having brought the ball under control Rob just failed to connect as he was put off balance by a defender. We had a number of shots from distance but it was Wellcome who broke the deadlock. I think it was Waine Hetherington who started it (just as he would finish it – more on that later) with a back pass or back header that did not have enough on it – allowing the nippy Roger to unsettle Gary and manage to thread the ball to another Wellcome forward who tucked it away with the covering Colin Brazier agonisingly close from clearing the danger on the goal line. Thankfully before our frustration could get to bilious levels, George Kleanthous had latched on to a Colin Mant through ball to slot home neatly within five minutes.
But we had not yet purged the mistakes out of our game. We got away with spillages at corners from Gary’s lubricated digits, poor distribution from goal kicks, dodgy back passes before we were punished again almost in a similar fashion as Wellcome edged ahead, once again against the run of play. We had a good appeal for a penalty turned down when Waine Hetherington was brought down in the box. The decisions were not going our way – in the build-up to the second gift we gave Wellcome, Colin Mant had been taken roughly from behind in the centre circle under the referee’s nose but the tantric whistle did not go off. Colin Mant did go off after twenty-five minutes or so as we introduced the flying wingback Mehmet on the right of midfield hopefully to slice through the Wellcome defence like a kebab knife although injury and rustiness seem to have blunted that cutting edge for now. However, Colin was back on for five minutes while our other Colin (Brazier) that is, went off for some emergency boot repairs, and ponder the wisdom of investing in a new pair of boots amidst the tripe we were dishing up.
Half-time was a blessed relief – perhaps more so for the three players who went off, Michael, Rob and Waine – to make way for the third coming of Colin Mant, the return of Ian Shoebridge and the introduction of our Roger (less fleet of foot though than the other Roger and with much less hair). Thankfully it was not long before we drew level – George Kleanthous lashing a classy left foot finish to crown a Roger French flick added to a perceptive through ball from Colin Brazier. Moments before that Roger French had applied his right foot to a ball on the edge of the box which drew a good save from the ersatz Wellcome keeper.
We dominated the second half more than the first in that, thankfully, Gary Fentiman was not tested in that half – instead it was relatively one-way traffic as we laid siege to the Wellcome box. George thought he had given us the lead when he slid in to convert a dangerous cross from Colin B. but was given offside by the overzealous Wellcome linesman (and manager). We continued to miss half chances, over-hit crosses. and we wondered even harder where our goals were going to come from after Andy Faulks (30 goals for us this season, and George Kleanthous 6 goals in 6 matches) both went off with twenty-five minutes left – leaving us with a midfielder Rob Lipscomb as our lone forward – not the finest tactical moment for the management you might think, and two other midfielders Waine and Michael back on.
In fact Andy Faulks left us when we were drawing 2-2, and went to finish the match for our Young Vets who were short on the adjoining pitch – that game was 0-0 when he joined it but ended with Farnborough losing 2-0 – you could say Andy had the worst day of all the Farnborough Vets out there today. Waine Hetherington came close, particularly after he missed a sitter when the ball was played back to him unmarked three yards from goal and his ineffectual left foot slice epitomised our pallid display. Yet with ten minutes left Waine was to have the last laugh as his innocuous looking shot (“I leathered it I thought”) defeated the Wellcome keeper, brought to his knees as he appeared to scoop the shot and propel it behind him, and the line, through his legs. Colin Mant, using his contacts with the management, appeared to suggest that our winning goal could be considered to have been an OG, but did not gather sufficient votes for the idea. We limped on to the end and got away with it.
In the absence of Pam Shoebridge, it fell to Jane Martin to feed the Senior Vets and their guests today, and she did it so well that we struggled to finish the vast assortment of rolls, potato croquettes and other nibbles (in the absence of Buffet supremo Nick Waller) . The other good experience we had today, apart from the food, was the showers, unusually hot even after forty+ blokes (though excluding Andy Faulks) had passed through.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous for possibly our only two bright moments of the game.
Next week – Riverside wander over to Farrow Fields, and the management will bring in an American striker, and a clown, as we look abroad to freshen things up.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous