Sunday 3rd September 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough do too little too late
I missed last week’s 4-0 defeat against Orpington Vets in our season opener against the Lord of the Rings XI. I wagered, rightly, there would be more laughs to be had at the Fringe in Edinburgh than on the fringes at Farrow Fields. Still, it gave a ‘development opportunity’ to Peter Harvey to turn his hand at match reporting. He did it so well that at least one of our players who will remain nameless, no longer wants ‘Pat’s inane innuendo’ (and this after gorging on the stuff for years like some tittering puerile pubescent pervert). It’s the word inane that I find upsetting, more than the ingratitude.
Erith Vets always give us a tough game and today was no exception, particularly as eight of us were playing our second game in two days. On an overcast day we mustered fourteen players, all chipping in for the pre-match preparations, as requested by co-Manager O’Flynn.
Colin Brazier, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Danny Mullins, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, Des Lindsay.
Substitutes: Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Obi Ugwumba.
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Jodie Gracanin, Chris Webb.
Co-Manager, DJ, Strategist: Mick O’Flynn.
Referee: Nick Kinnear.
Both teams would have been happy with their start to the game. We had more possession whilst Erith were dangerous on the break with their lone forward proving a handful. Erith had a young keeper – probably no more than a third of my age who was standing in for their injured regular keeper. We did not mind and in fairness never really found out how good he was because we did not really test him until very late in the game. Both defences were coping. Erith played a more compact defence with some big units whilst we spread things a bit more, partly because we had the greater attacking intent.
For a game with five goals I would say that the scoring chances were not much greater in number. Dave Salako pulled off a great save after fifteen minutes to deny the Erith main attacking threat after a long ball over the top had exposed our square defence. We had more corners and crosses into their box which came to nothing. We freshened things up on the half-hour with the introduction of Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn and Obi Ugwumba with Patrice Mongelard, Des Lindsay and Sinisa Gracanin making way. About ten minutes before half-time we fell behind after failing to mark the Erith danger man tightly and allowing him time and space to turn just outside our box and curl a crisp left foot shot past Dave Salako into the far corner of the net. Soon after I recall Waine Hetherington failing to connect with a ball that was cut back by Simon Thomas after he had got behind the Erith defence and that was our chance of an equaliser gone before half-time.
Our chances of an equaliser after half-time receded a little with the withdrawal of Danny Mullins who had to leave early for a family commitment. His physical presence at the heart of our midfield had given Erith something to think about. Five minutes into the half the same Erith striker found space and seemed to hardly connect with the ball which rolled slowly towards the bottom corner with Dave Salako unable to adjust his position to intercept the ball which trickled over the line. This was a harsh lesson in taking the few chances that come one’s way and for the second week running there was a deep sense that the football gods were punishing Farnborough. Inevitably, the moaning and whingeing from our players went up a notch and was to continue into a fair bit of the second half (having started to rear its ugly head in the latter stages of the first half).
Our opponents must love it when this happens. It is early enough in the season to say this is unacceptable – it does not help the team and those who do it, they know who they are, should take a long hard look at themselves. And, if at the end of the self-examination they feel they are too good for this team then the solution is obvious and we can be spared the shrill angry voices that disturb the peace of a Sunday morning and the equilibrium of the whole team.
Although 2-0 down, we were far from out of it. Waine Hetherington and Pete Harvey had not given up even if the service to them was not as they would wish. A shot from Waine from inside the box showed how competent the lad in goal from Erith was. We made more changes on the hour with Patrice Mongelard and Des Lindsay back on for Colin Brazier and Ian Shoebridge. Unbelievably we fell further behind after a defensive infelicity from Mick O’Flynn left Dave Salako exposed. Further mishap befell us when Sinisa Gracanin had to come off after turning his ankle in a divot (with Ian Shoebridge coming back on). The existence of said divot and others like it seemed to have been known because top soil had been piled by the pitch for remedial work.
At that point with the Farnborough bickering flaring up again it was difficult to see where a home goal would come from – and Erith started to use the words “clean sheet” amongst themselves. That is when Obi Ugwumba decided to produce one of his special deliveries. Latching on to a pass from Peter Harvey, Michael found himself about thirty yards out in space and pulled the trigger. Power, flight, accuracy, audacity and the element of surprise combined to propel the ball into the top corner, and the very young Erith keeper was finally beaten. We were not done – we were to score again within a few minutes after a Simon Thomas close range header had been parried acrobatically by the lad in goal and in the ensuing confusion the ball was bundled into his own net by an Erith defender. The dubious goals committee considered briefly whether Mick O’Flynn was involved in that goal but decided that he had had greater involvement with the third Erith goal. There was no time for us to get an equaliser but there was a palpable sense of a tide turning.
We lost but the final score was a better reflection of the game and a draw would not have flattered us. The game was close and the result fair, and referee Nick Kinnear did not really have any bother to deal with. Erith generously made a contribution to the cost of the pitch as we are not due to play them again this season unless we can arrange a game next May.
It was good to see volunteers come forward to tidy things up after the game and to take the kit. Talking of kit I was surprised in the après-match in the bar by a declaration of intent from Des Lindsay to take the kit next week. But the much greater surprise was a belated birthday present from my team mates in the form of a framed photograph of a defensive wall facing a free kick in a Farnborough Senior Vets game against Avery Hill Vets several years ago (the 2-2 draw on 17 April 2011). The scene would not be out of place in a Monty Python sketch entitled “The Defensive Wall". This was unexpected, and I was very touched by it even if the most ridiculous pose in it was mine. Remarkably four out of the eight Farnborough players in the photo are still playing for the Senior Vets.
Shoebridge Catering Solutions put on a splendid spread as always and there was so much of it that we offered some to the half dozen or so of the Sunday Reserve team players who were in the clubhouse. I doubt if some of them had moved faster during their game.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin. It felt right that the votes were shared between eight players as the collective had performed well.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin