Sunday 3rd May 2009
“Vets return to winning ways against Santos with 6-2 victory in sombre game in bright sunshine”
The 11th win for the Vets this season was achieved in rather muted circumstances. The two ambulances parked on the centre of the pitch for 20 minutes saw to that. Full credit is due to both to Santos and to Farnborough for resuming the game after that and putting on a spectacle for the neutral.
The team was Gary Rosslee in goal; Matt Wright, Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, and Simon Harvey in defence; Paul Tanton, Ian Shoebridge, Neil Connelly and Chris Ponulak in midfield; Peter Harvey and Paul Smith up front. Subs were Trevor Stewart, Paul Storkey, Chris Bourlet and Colin Ebdon (all of whom came on but not always for Farnborough).
Toby Harlow appeared briefly at the start to give the team selection – which he niftily adjusted when Steve Blanchard reported in with an injury, before going to Camber Sands for his daughter’s birthday (and for better phone reception than in Downe Village). Roger French was on child-minding duty though appeared later with his two mignons morceaux (Isabelle and Thomas) to watch most of the game (and I am glad not all of it for reasons that will be explained). Toby Manchip was missing, reported injured or in Southend or both. Darren Mace gave support from the sidelines as did a number of former vets who appeared during the interruption – Stuart Savage, Chris Alston and Steve Durbridge.
The first twenty minutes or so were all one-way traffic. Gary had little to do. The movement and passing were good. We were in control. There was a lot of running down the flanks and it was only a matter of time before we scored we felt. The first goal when it came was not unexpected – what was unexpected (and I saw it with my own eyes too as I was in the box also) was the rare pass from Paul Smith in the 6-yard box to Paul Tanton who slotted home from close range.
But that could easily have been the second goal if Patrice Mongelard had made more of the one-to-one that he created with an overlapping run combined with a clever through pass from Neil Connelly. Yes – I was through but caught in three minds - chip the keeper, leather it, or pass to a teammate – in the end none of which happened. My nan tapped me on the shoulder and I put the ball in the conifers 30 yards behind the goal. Roger French did not see that miss so he would not be able to report if he were to do a match report. But he heard about it alright. Peter Harvey then had a shot that came back off the post and we threatened more goals until the injury to a Santos player. He fell awkwardly in the centre circle, dislocated his elbow and was in great distress. The goal that Paul Tanton scored in the immediate follow-up to this incident was rightly disallowed by the ever-fair referee Mick Gearing.
At times like this it is a good that that our ground is so near to a hospital though of course it would not do to do present this as a positive. For the first time in twelve seasons with the Vets I witnessed the sad sight of not one but two ambulances on our pitch – chrome gleaming incongruously in the sunshine. No footballer likes to see such things and fortunately such episodes are very rare, and we wish the Santos player a full and swift recovery. The next twenty minutes were strange and slow to pass – an odd juxtaposition of pain and pleasure as the Brazilian Socrates would have observed (and so would that Greek bloke with the same name) as ramblers went by, children and dogs enjoyed the sunshine and another game continued on the top pitch, and some dark football humour could be heard to comfort the injured player as the paramedics gave pain relief and prepared to move him. There was even time for Matt Wright to make Master Connelly cry as they challenged for a ball.
When the game resumed – we skipped straight through to the second half. Colin Ebdon sportingly went to play for Santos, joined soon after by Paul Storkey (as another Santos player left early). Both players were to be given a torrid time down the right – by Peter Harvey, Ian Shoebridge and Patrice Mongelard. The latter’s overlapping throughout the game as he searched for a goal was kindly described in the showers by a connaisseur of the game as Cafuesque.
The goals came as we knew they would, though it is difficult to know how much the injury to their player unsettled Santos. Paul Smith got our second with a well-placed low shot after he had controlled an unselfish pass from Peter Harvey. Ian Shoebridge got the third with a neat chest control, swivel and shot from close range after a short corner. The fourth was a belter, as Simon Harvey let fly from 25 yards – and produced quite a sight from the sidelines as the onion bag bulged. Matt Wright scored a trademark fifth with a vintage powerful run from the half-way line and composed finish to slot the ball under the keeper.
5-0 up and cruising – or so we thought. Then came two defensive errors in quick succession that were both punished from close range. Even though we were still winning by a handsome margin there were words exchanged about that between our defence and forward line which culminated in one defender loudly calling a forward a large procreating infant (well – the vernacular used would not get past the censor but I think you’ll guess what was said). It was a good thing that we were not losing that game. It was noted, with not a little irony later, that the same defender threw his teether out of the perambulator, so to speak, as he exited the dressing room and club house, after a swift, early and perhaps solitary shower, in a rather brusque manner, voicing doubt about his availability next week, or next season. This was uncharacteristic behaviour from one who is normally a solid team player with a good sense of humour.
There was still time for Simon Harvey to get his second goal – with a close range shot after confusion in the Santos box from a corner. Simon had waited all season to score and like the ambulances two came today – to earn him a well-deserved man-of-the-match award – (good to see the other Harvey get the goals for a change, though there would have been some brotherly envy, particularly after Paul Smith moved to claim the top scorer spot). And as we left the dressing room Toby was able to get on the phone to Vic Farrow from Camber Sands to get a quick match report.
Last game of the season next week – not against Welsh Tavern as initially advertised but against Diamond Vets where we can now finish the game we started on 11 January.
Having tried in vain to get childcare arrangements sorted and failed I was resigned to the fact that I would have to attend the game against Santos as a spectator and miss out on the pre-match banter. From what I gather Toby Harlow made a brief appearance to sort out team selection then handed over the reins to acting gaffer Chris Bourlet.
I managed to arrive 20 minutes or so into the game just in time to see Tant run through the middle and slot the ball under the advancing keeper for what appeared to be our second goal. However, it was not to be as in the process of preceding play one of the Santos players had landed awkwardly on the rock hard pitch and managed to dislocate his elbow. There was no doubt as to how painful the injury was and an ambulance was called without delay.
This enforced delay gave plenty of opportunity to catch up with the gathered crowd of subs and former Vets players of Stewart Savage, Chris Alston and Docker aka Steve Durbridge all who had been curious to see the revitalised Vets for themselves. Instead they spent 30 minutes watching a bunch of over 35’s standing around occasionally kicking a ball – not that much different really I suppose. During this break Pat was keen to know how long I had been there and was quite relieved to hear that I had only just arrived and had therefore missed him missing a cast iron chance and as a result wouldn’t be able to report it – true to a certain extent but it still gets a mention. Another activity to pass the time was calculating the aggregate age of the team to see if we could qualify for the category of Super Vets for our second team next season – do we get free bus passes or something? While this was going on Matt Wright was seen honing his ball winning skills against a very young Jack Connelly only for it all to end in tears.
Soon a rapid response car followed by an ambulance appeared on pitch to treat and remove the stricken player back to the PRUH. After a brief discussion it was decided that the game would resume with the second half due to time lost. Santos were now a man down and lacking in subs so Colin Ebdon volunteered to fill in and the game was restarted with us leading 1-0 as Mick had rightly discounted Tant’s second goal under the circumstances.
The second half continued with pretty much one way traffic to the Santos goalmouth who were no doubt affected by earlier events. It was down to their keeper who pulled off a number of good saves to keep the score down in the early part but eventually the goals went in. Goals from Smithy, Shoey, a humdinger from Simon Harvey and a well worked goal from Matt put us 5-0 up and we were cruising. Santos were to lose another player who had to leave early and Storkey filled in at right back much to his and everybody’s surprise and even did a good job under intense pressure.
This comfortable margin obviously gave our elder statesman, Pat, the incentive to convert to a flying winger as time and time again he was seen haring down the wing and indeed got himself into good attacking positions but unfortunately not able to score. We possibly got a little bit complacent as two defensive errors were punished in quick succession and resulted in some heated debate between our back and forward lines. What we needed was another goal to settle our nerves and Simon was on hand to grab his second of the game from close range and put the match beyond reach as Micky blew for full time shortly after.
All in all a very eventful game for the wrong reasons and no doubt we wish the Santos player a speedy recovery. This win puts us on 11 for the season and with the leading scorers only 1 goal apart going into the last game of the season things could get interesting up front.