Sunday 16th October 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Regain Potency with 4-0 Win Against Inter Vyagra
We approached today’s game with quiet but respectful optimism, mindful of the last time we played today’s opponents when we needed a last minute winner and had to come from behind. The management were under pressure, and the team needed to perk things up after a run of four defeats. The return of Mehmet Bozyigit and Eric Johnson would give us a new thrust, and we hoped our forwards would start scoring again, as long as we kept a clean sheet.
For today’s outing to Shooters Hill, the Farnborough raiding party consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal; Colin Brazier, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit and Toby Manchip in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks in attack. Paul Bell and Eric Johnson were our substitutes ready for our new roll-on roll-off substitutions regime orchestrated by Roger French from our technical area. Isabelle and Thomas French, and Eric Johnson’s Special Lady stood ready to cheer our goals.
Our foreplay nearly had early rewards, as twice in the first ten minutes Mehmet Bozyigit was put through and failed narrowly to score, and even hit the crossbar in the process. Our general play was much improved compared to recent weeks. We had more possession and the advantage of the slope, and our passing was crisper. There was more energy about us as we penetrated the Inter Vyagra defence repeatedly. Yet for all our dominance Inter Vyagra held out until our substitutes were introduced midway through the first half as Paul Bell and Eric Johnson came on for Mehmet Bozyigit and Toby Manchip.
Paul Bell (who informed us, ominously, that he had had beans on toast for breakfast - a sort of coals to Newcastle I thought) must have had a slight tail wind behind him as he latched on to a defence-splitting through ball from Ian Shoebridge, with deceptive pace, to round the keeper and slot home his second goal in consecutive games. The climax of the goal, which had seemed a long time coming, relaxed us and we came back for seconds. Eric Johnson had brought energy, running and good link-up play, all the way from Los Angeles, and the fullbacks, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard were getting behind the Inter Vyagra defence to put crosses into the box. The best cross of the half came from Eric Johnson to the far post where Rob Lipscomb, ummarked, rose majestically to head the ball over from three yards out. Robin made amends soon after to convert a pass from Andy Faulks and score emphatically to put us 2-0 up.
Before the half was over there was time for Patrice Mongelard to score a drop goal as he broke through, and got over-excited and shot from 25 yards out – putting the ball between the posts – the rugby posts that is, which were set 4 or 5 yards directly behind the goal. If only Wales could have done this yesterday I thought, and a great injustice would have been avoided.
Anyway back to soccer as Eric Johnson would say – and when the second half got underway we brought back Toby Manchip and Mehmet Bozyigit, with Andy Faulks and Rob Lipscomb taking a breather. As we expected, now playing with the slope, our opponents seemed a bit frisky and we had to be on our guard. Eric and Mehmet were doing a lot of probing down the flanks without reward. The breakthrough of a third goal came when Patrice Mongelard linked up with Mehmet Bozyigit, and threaded the ball to Paul Bell on the edge of the box. Paul still had a lot to do as he controlled the ball and carried it deep into the box and rolled it towards goal beyond the reach of the keeper, only for a sharp and alert Eric Johnson to arrive on the scene and poke the ball over the line.
That third goal unsettled our opponents, particularly their goalkeeper who withdrew his services shortly after, following a fall-out with his defence. Thankfully, our opponents had 15 players and a replacement was quickly found. He could do little though as Andy Faulks regained his scoring touch by getting on the end of a through ball from Ian Shoebridge to put us 4-0 up. Andy had returned to the field of play midway through the second half as Paul Smith and Steve Blanchard made way. Paul was to come back in slightly unusual circumstances later.
Amidst all of this we could have had more goals today – it could have been joy of six, as some glaring misses were perpetrated. Toby Manchip put a close range header wide from an exquisite Colin Brazier cross – perhaps he had not recovered fully from when his head hit the ground in the first half - I thought I heard a hollow sound but it could have been Paul Bell’s beans. Robin Lipscomb put another header over the bar from a gem of a cross from Mehmet Bozyigit. From where I was, without my glasses, it looked like Robin was standing under the bar at the time. That may be why Mehmet opted to shoot soon after when another cross for Robin was on, and he hit the bar again.
In fact we scored a fifth goal today but then we did not. Let me explain. Toby Manchip, one of a very exclusive group of our players who did not score last season, had found himself in the box, a yard or so out, in the right position to convert a cut back from Mehmet Bozyigit. Toby had taken his bow, waved to the crowd, kissed the badge, worked out how he was going to tell us about his goal ad nauseam in the bar afterwards, and was back in the centre circle for the restart - when the referee, acting alone, decided that Toby had been offside. This was the second harsh refereeing decision I had seen this weekend. Well, the third if you exclude the stonewall penalty that was not given to us. Toby seemed a broken man after that, and became the second player in the game to withdraw his services and go for an early shower. Paul Smith came back on to see out the last ten minutes, but sadly was not able to get on the scoresheet. He needs a goal almost as badly as Toby.
It is fair to say that Gary Fentiman has had more difficult times in our goal (for instance the last time we played Inter Vyagra) but when he was called upon in earnest to make a point blank save from a header, from possibly the only Inter Vyagra corner in the game I can remember – he was equal to it.
The mood in the bar afterwards was more positive than in recent weeks. The management was safe for another week; and Eric Johnson was looking forward to his next game for us, in April. Toby had recovered his pertness in a revealing tee shirt, and had hung a Spurs scarf around the neck of the man from LA.
Man of the match: Eric Johnson and Colin Brazier