Sunday 9th September 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets shortcomings exposed in 3-1 defeat to efficient and experienced Erith Vets
The way some of the lads were talking of last week’s match report you’d think they been reading Fifty Shades of the Guild. So I am going to keep it clean today but it isn’t going to be pretty.
Things started not going to plan when we had to change twice before the game. We had all put on a blue kit – after Roger French assumed that our opponents played in yellow. This was proved wrong when one of their players walked into our dressing room, listened to Roger’s master plan for the game, and remained unnoticed in our midst. He was wearing a blue kit not fifty shades removed from ours. So it was back to the red and yellow kit sponsored by Village Cuisine, including for our three players who had already gone out to the pitch. Things did not really get better after that. The referee failed to turn up and thankfully Chris Bourlet stepped up, naturally, to enforce the laws of the game, but for the first half only. We had no idea what the second half officiating arrangements would be. In fact having no idea summed us up nicely today but more on that shortly.
On arguably one of the hottest 9th Septembers anyone can remember the Senior Vets team photo taken by one of our opponents had the following line-up:
Gary Fentiman in goal; Mick O’Flynn, Chris Webb, Roger French and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit, John Tallis, Sinisa Gracanin and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Ian Shoebridge in attack. With Chris Bourlet as the “man in black” our second substitute (running the line) was Colin Brazier. It was good to see Colin back after injury and wearing a Brazil shirt – which sadly failed to inspire the Senior Vets today. Graeme Evans was found loitering with intent and became our 14th man.
We could not quite believe that we were 2-0 down at half time. We had enjoyed so much possession that we seemed to have convinced ourselves that we were better than we actually were. Our passing was good, even excessive. The problem was in the final third where it mattered most. At the risk of reminding some of last week’s report we had a lot of foreplay but no penetration. The final ball was never there and our frustration grew. Erith defended a little too robustly at times – most of the fouls were conceded by them and some of these were a little late and from behind. They were not slow to challenge refereeing decisions (not helped by the absence of a linesman from their number but that did not stop their Roger).
We were not quite disciplined either, not as much as our opponents. We got caught on the break twice and paid the price for it. After twenty minutes Erith scored from a deep cross from the right that eluded Gary Fentiman and Mick O’Flynn and was tucked in with a deft header back across the goal. Fifteen minutes later Erith played a good one-two on the edge of the box and the big man with the cultured left foot applied a delicate finish to lob Gary Fentiman from ten yards out. I should mention that between the two goals a rasping Erith thirty-yarder was tipped onto the bar by Gary Fentiman.
At the other end we huffed and puffed but could not really break through. Andy Faulks produced a powerful shot from a lay-off by Ian Shoebridge which drew a good point blank save from the Erith keeper. Apart from that they coped well with what we had to offer. Whilst we had more of the ball we also made more mistakes and in many ways were more naïve.
At half time Colin Brazier and Chris Bourlet came on with Roger French and Ian Shoebridge making way. Roger went on to referee the second half and we were treated after fifteen minutes or so with two Rogers exchanging words in anger. But after a few expletives things settled down. This is not the first time we have played Erith – but today’s game was quite a tetchy affair.
The pattern of the first half was repeated again. Greater possession and passing from Farnborough – resolute defending from Erith and danger on the break. We did make more of an effort to have a presence in their box and we created more chances and applied more pressure, forced more corners then they did but could not find the elusive finishing touch. In an effort to get back in the game we gambled with Mick O’Flynn pushing up leaving three at the back. I am not sure this really worked as Erith got a third goal on the break. Sinisa Gracanin went off injured and Ian Shoebridge returned. Graeme Evans came on for Mehmet in the last fifteen minutes.
I did not think we would ever score. I am glad we did especially as in the last ten minutes Erith had started to rub it in with calls of “Clean Sheet”. You know you are on to a good hiding when the opposition start saying things like that. That is why we were all pleased, with about five minutes left, to get one back. The goal epitomised our play today – good inter-passing down the right which saw Mick O’Flynn advance in the box behind the Erith defence, cut the ball back for Robin Lipscomb unmarked in the six yard box only to see him produce a limp shot that was saved by the keeper. However, Andy Faulks was finally well placed to scuff the rebound into the net from a yard out. And that was it. We were well beaten on the day by a good team and had contributed in no small way to our discomfiture.
Talking of contribution I should mention Roger French. He not only played the first half, but refereed the second, took the kit home, added up his match fees without any help from me (or that smart lad Thomas French), and perhaps his most telling achievement today – rescued a plate of cheese and pickle sandwiches (the best that Rob Lipscomb had ever tasted and a tribute to the fare that Pam Shoebridge laid on for her boys today) from some ravenous youths from Orpington FC. We won’t mention the kit thing, or the absence of a referee (not Roger’s fault really), or any part that Roger might have played in the first two Erith goals.
It was good to see so many Erith players still in the clubhouse when the bell went for last orders. Why not? After all they had had a rather good game and earned their beers. They had given a classic away performance, silencing the home crowd, soaking up the pressure, letting us have the ball where it did not hurt them, defending in numbers and hitting us with quick breaks down the flanks and making the most of their assets and finishing the few chances they created.
So after only our second game our unbeaten record for the season had gone. Our new shirts advertising the Village Cuisine had seen a performance today that would not curry favour with our sponsor.
Man of the match – Chris Webb – one of the very few to emerge with any credit from today’s difficulty which left us all hot and bothered.
Man of the match: Chris Webb