Sunday 1st February 2009
By Patrice Mongelard with a second report by Roger French
“Vets win 4-1 in heart-warming performance against Crofton Albion”
It was cold when we started and even colder when we finished but we had the warm glow of a job well done against decent opposition that have caused us difficulty in the past. And we were glad to get a game after so many weeks without one.
Farnborough lined up with Gary Crosslee in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Chris Bourlet, Chris Webb and Steve Blanchard in defence; Paul Storkey, Neil Connelly, Matt Wright and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Toby Manchip and Pete Harvey up front. Subs were Toby Harlow, Roger French, Simon Harvey and Darren Mace.
We opted to play against the Siberian wind in the first half. Conditions were tricky with the hard surface and strong wind. For a while this looked like a game with few goals with both teams tight and compact. But even though our goal kicks struggled to get over the half way line we had a lot of decent possession and fashioned the better chances. There was good balance in the team - Matt Wright and Neil Connelly gave us a hard centre in midfield and Paul Storkey and Ian Shoebridge were willing raiders down the flank. Pete Harvey was lively. Toby Manchip was putting himself about. The defence were in control but watchful. Crofton were relying on break-aways and had the players to trouble us but we held firm and Gary had little to do in goal.
From time to time Toby Manchip will produce a moment of rare quality (usually in goal) but today he was up front - and so he did with Farnborough’s opener. A left foot shot from the edge of the box with hardly any backlift, too powerful for an intended cross we think, that flew in over the keeper’s head, clipped the underside of the bar and dropped in the bottom corner. No more than we deserved but then we let Crofton back in after attempting zonal marking at a corner. But soon we had an even better left foot belter to remember from Neil Connelly that arrowed in – too high we thought initially and so did the Crofton keeper until he had to do something about it, failed to hold it, spilling it to Ian Shoebridge who had gambled and was ideally placed to restore our advantage.
We felt good at half time knowing the wind was now behind us. Roger French came on as did Simon Harvey and it took us a little while to adjust but Crofton failed to profit. Pete Harvey got involved in one or two tasty incidents – but thankfully his brother was there to put out the fire. Some of the tackling against Pete can was brusque (that adjective was once used to describe the introductory tackle from the legendary Liverpool defender Tommy Smith on Osvaldo Ardiles in 1978 – as a Spurs fan Pete will appreciate the analogy I hope). The red bruise left by one such tackle (which Pete said was a good tackle if you are into irony that is) was high on the thigh for all to see in the dressing room. But by then Pete had had his laugh with a free kick that swerved in, from a long way on the keeper’s left, avoided all defenders and attackers, and crept in as the keeper was seemingly distracted by Matt Wright’s failed attempt to connect with the ball. That third goal steadied nerves and we went on to record a fourth goal, courtesy of a cheeky back flick from Ian Shoebridge ( just like Zola – purred the Chelsea fans in our midst – more on them later).
Back to the weather – as the game ended the snow started to come down and it was too cold for my nan today. The cold wind followed us in the showers, but we did not mind – and we all hope Toby can get us a game next week – as we strive to record more than 12 wins this season (which would be a club record for the vets). Three wins on the trot now, unbeaten in December, January and February.
Man of the match was Ian Shoebridge for two goals, intelligent running, energy, and all round vision.
The dressing room was swept by young Joe Storkey – and a fine job he did too. Pity his team let him down later in the day but he had the comfort of seeing dad regain his touch on the pitch.
Finally after 3 weeks of cancelled games and 1 match abandoned since Christmas the weather relented (to a degree – probably several below truth be told) and we were able to complete our first full fixture for 2009.
With the upcoming proposed Vets night out at a choice of classy venues it was certainly a day of mixed sartorial elegance as various players drifted into the club house. First up was the country gent/trainspotter/whippet racer mix that was Neil Connelly sporting a furry hooded parka with flat cap straight out of Coronation Street. This was closely followed by an Inspector Gadget/Clouseau lookie-likee that was Gary “I’ve got my fake ID sorted” Rosslee with Andrew Ridgley double Chris Webb looking like he had come straight from a Wham convention sporting a dazzling white jumper with woolly scarf accessory. Storkey ambled in with Joe in tow and a mouth full of bacon burger prompting the comment from Whammy Webb enquiring if the bacon was smoked enough to his liking. He was also questioned regarding his mental preparations to which he replied: “Do we still have the subs suits?”.
To the changing room which was neatly laid out with full red kit thanks to Toby H. As we settled down to change Toby was reminded of this fixture last year when Crofton took forever to get changed as they waited for their kit to turn up. When it eventually appeared it bore a remarkable resemblance to our own. This prompted Toby to carry out a quick check with those players that were waiting around again for their kit to appear and he shortly reappeared with yet another kit in fetching grey with blue shorts and socks combo. The team selection was finally put up on the board and Storkey’s mental preparations went out the window as he noted his name down to start. We lined up in freezing conditions as follows:
Gary Rosslee (GK)
Pat Mongelard (RB)
Steve Blanchard (CB)
Chris Webb (CB)
Chris Bourlet (LB)
Paul Storkey (RM)
Neil Connelly (CM)
Matt Wright (CM)
Ian Shoebridge (LM)
Pete Harvey (CF)
Toby Manchip (CF)
Subs: Simon Harvey, Roger French, Darren Mace
Manager: Toby Harlow
Referee: Micky Gearing
Crowd: At least 5 non-playing individuals were huddled together under the limited cover provided by the shelter on the main pitch.
The pitch was looking good but was a bit crispy under foot and we played into the fierce Arctic wind as the game kicked-off. The first half was a very even affair with few direct chances on goal and neither keeper being troubled too much. Shoey and Storkey were providing good width down the wings with Matt and Neil controlling the middle and providing the through balls for the non-stop running of Pete to whip crosses over to someone who I think was being referred to as juggernaut. The defence again was well marshalled by Webby and Inspector Rosslee was showing safe hands when required.
Following a good spell of pressure Toby “the juggernaut” Manchip picked up the ball just outside the box and placed an excellent shot out of reach of the keeper into the top right hand corner to give us the lead. This we thought would lead to more but Crofton took advantage of some poor marking from a corner shortly afterwards to level the scores. Spurred on by this set back Neil went on a good run into the box and hammered a left foot shot towards goal only to see it crash back off the bar. Luckily Shoey was in top poacher form and was on hand to poke the ball in to give us a deserved lead at half-time.
Half-time took a bit longer as subs Roger French and Simon Harvey struggled to get out of the multi-layers used to keep the cold out as the left hand side of the team was reshaped. We struggled to get going from the restart and Crofton pressed hard for an equaliser but to no avail. Things settled down and chances were created but mostly missed – in one instance a glaringly open goal as the out of position keeper virtually passed the ball to Pete just outside the box who promptly aimed for the corner flag and nearly hit it! Pete’s speed was causing problems for Crofton and himself - literally running himself into the ground on a couple of occasions having got to the byline and promptly falling over. A combination of over zealous tackles and frustration at missing a number of chances lead to one or two incidents involving the red mist but luckily Simon was on hand to smooth things over.
In the end it was Pete who had the last laugh as he lined up to take a direct free kick from way out on the right flank following another clattering with the ball finding its way right to the back of the net largely helped by Matt’s failed attempt to connect with the ball providing a helpful distraction. We pushed on from here as the clouds darkened and the snow began to fall the ball was crossed in from the left to find Shoey in the middle who provided a deft flick to score his second and our fourth of the game. An ideal way to sign-off for 6 weeks as he is off getting his eyes lasered and will miss a number of games as a result.
Micky Gearing signalled the end of the game not long after with more snow coming thick and fast as a Crofton player was heard to issue a challenge of a snowball fight as he thought they would have us at that! Back in the clubhouse a certain juggernaut was seen tapping up the ref for a MOM vote while Toby H was noted to have received a vote but as it was the decision went deservedly to Shoey for 2 goals and a lot of running.