Sunday 8th September 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Rueful Farnborough sent back to earth by Erith
After last Sunday’s heady, sweet draught a more bitter taste in the mouth today as our unbeaten run came to an end, and our shortcomings were exposed. I did not see the last fifteen minutes of this game, just as well I think. Our record against today’s opponents is not great. We lost the corresponding fixture 3-1 last season. We knew our opponents had quality, toughness, and would pose a serious challenge. I do not think we responded very smartly.
Yet it started well in the sunshine, all useful activity, endeavour and teamwork as we prepared for the game, sorted out water bottles, corner flags etc, opened the containers, put the nets up and I even cleared what dogs leave behind so the Erith keeper could show us his moves, and he certainly had a few.
The starting XI was in fact the same as last week’s: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Mehmet Bozyigit, Chris Webb and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Andy Faulks and Ian Shoebridge in attack. Roger French, Colin Mant and Obinna (Michael) Ugwumba were joined on the subs bench by Colin Brazier and Nick Waller. Isabelle and Thomas French, Jane and Miss Coles and an even bigger Michael fan club gave us a good home crowd.
Like last week I feel we started sluggishly and I am not sure we really snapped out of it, or rather we had opponents today that made it difficult for us to do so. Passes were a tad sloppy, we seemed slow, Erith were quicker to the second ball, physically more committed to the game, and made fewer errors. We created chances undoubtedly in the first half but never really looked like we believed we would score. As I said in my last report teams that do not make the most of their scoring opportunities inevitably get punished. The final ball was more often than not too heavy, or short, crosses were too deep or too delayed. When we did have an end product the Erith keeper was equal to it. We scored after a quarter of an hour but the goal was ruled offside - following an exchange of passes between Ian Shoebridge and Sinisa Gracanin in the Erith box Sinisa had slotted the ball home as the whistle went. Andy Faulks forced a very good save from a diving header a few yards out and Mehmet Bozyigit forced no save from a header two yards out unmarked at the far post (with time to bring the ball down I felt).
At the other end Erith looked dangerous from set pieces, particularly corners. I cannot recall Gary having to make a real save in that first half but we all had to be vigilant because Erith were good playing on the break and had players that could hurt you.
We started the second half with a bit more purpose. We enjoyed a sustained period of pressure forcing a string of four or five corners to threaten the Erith goal. They dug deep – their keeper made some excellent saves and two goal-bounds shots were saved by Erith players on the line with the keeper beaten. That purple patch lasted about ten minutes before a needless free kick was conceded by Roger French on the hour. Although it was almost on the half way line and close to the touch line the ball was delivered with precision and purpose and a header of great quality converted it into a gaol as the ball was headed from the edge of the box into the top corner of our net to beat out 6ft 3 keeper at full stretch. This single moment changed the complexion of the game. Erith heads perked up while Farnborough heads went down, particularly when moments later Nick Waller had a golden chance from six yards out after a one-two in the box to bring us level but the shot fell to his weaker right foot and in the end he just lobbed the ball tamely into the arms of the centrally placed keeper. Five minutes later our back four, with three new faces in it, was breached as the off side trap was beaten. Gary parried the first effort but Roger French could not provide a covering tackle in time and the ball was rolled into our net by the crafty winger who was causing quite a bit of angst down the left side of our defence.
We were taught a lesson today – how to defend with solidarity and intelligence, how to keep control of emotions, play with composure, how to be patient and make the most of scoring opportunities when they do arise, how to keep a shape and pattern of play.
We had sixteen players available and that meant many changes during the game which had to be made, however unsettling. Rather than break up the narrative of the match here are the changes en bloc as they were made:
25th minute: Colin Mant, Colin Brazier and Nick Waller on for Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin and Rob Lipscomb. Half time: Roger French and Obi Ugwumba for Mehmet Bozyigit and Mick O’Flynn. 65th minute: Mehmet Bozyigit, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin and Rob Lipscomb for Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, Steve Blanchard, Andy Faulks and Ian Shoebridge. 75th minute: Ian Shoebridge for Colin Brazier.
Our policy is to give everyone in the squad a decent run out and we live and perish by it. At times it looked like an accident waiting to happen on the left of our defence, a bit like cars speeding in the fog, as I had cause to recall as I crossed the Sheppey Bridge today for a family occasion which meant my early departure from the ground. That is why I am not able to describe to you the après-match hospitality or what transpired in the club house after the game. All I know is that Jane stepped in for Pam Shoebridge to put food on the table, so to speak, and I am sure will have taken excellent care of every one and shown a more hospitable side of our club to our visitors.
Man of the match for Farnborough – Chris Webb who kept a cool head in midfield, defence and gave a perceptive view of events in the left of our defence from the touch line.
Man of the match for Erith Vets (a personal view) – their excellent goal keeper.
CUACO Vets next week – and an opportunity to regain our poise and self-respect I hope.
Man of the match: Chris Webb