Sunday 29th March 2009
By Patrice Mongelard
Vets wind the clock back with 10th victory of season in 4-1 win against Orpington
To add to the confusion which the changing of the clocks usually brings we also switched venue for this game quite late in the day to “Bladder” Sports Ground. The dressing rooms were by a long skidmark quite the worst we have experienced: poky, windowless, rubbish-strewn, corridors that looked like the nearby river had burst its banks overnight, with no drinking water available and what could only be described as stalagshites in the toilet bowl. We placed an order for hot showers back in Farnborough even before our game had started. The pitches were OK but had seen better days like the rest of the place.
Our starting line-up was: Gary Rosslee in goal; Trevor Stewart, Chris Webb, Matt Wright, and Steve Blanchard in defence; Paul Tanton, Steve Ponulak, Neil Connelly and Colin Ebdon in midfield; Paul Smith and Pete Harvey up front. Subs were Patrice Mongelard, Ian Shoebridge and (an unready) Toby Harlow. Toby Manchip was present. The manager Toby Harlow mumbled something about resting some players for the top game against Lloyds Golden Oldies next week.
Our football when it started was not much easier on the eye than the dressing rooms. Now I know that a game from the sidelines can feel even worse than from the pitch – especially with the two Tobies shaking their heads, repeating the word shambles, and comfort-eating (more on that later). It took us twenty minutes or so to wake up. By then we were a goal down – a mistake at the back had led to a shot that we were expecting Gary to save – wrong.
Orpington surprised us with their bustle and had one or two players who could play a bit and our shaky back four and keeper made things awkward for a while. However, slowly we began to weave things together, win corners, apply pressure and create the chances. Pete Harvey was a constant threat, pacy and dangerous well-supplied by Neil Connelly, Paul Tanton and even Paul Smith. It was no surprise when Peter laid on our equaliser for Paul Smith from close range. We had several half chances, including a free kick that came off the top of the bar from Pete Harvey. The Orpington keeper was about 18 stone and two ounces and we fancied our chances against him but did not get much opportunity in that half to test him.
Changes were made at half-time with Ian Shoebridge and Patrice Mongelard replacing Steve Blanchard (who clearly was not fit) and Colin Ebdon. Matt Wright moved to the centre of defence to shore things up. Orpington retreated and began to rely on breakaways. Our goals when they came were inevitable. 2-1 to us as Neil Connelly cleverly placed his shot along the ground from the edge of the box, to come off the inside of the post into the net. We had suspected that kind of goal could be scored against this keeper although he had moments earlier, to our great surprise, got down low to keep out an effort from Pete Harvey. The result was put beyond doubt with a close range header from Chris Ponulak from an Ian Shoebridge cross (3-1).
With 10-15 minutes left we began to pour forward. Even Toby Harlow came on up front, fancying his chances after some “Laurel and Hardy” moments involving the two Tobies as they attempted to master that substitution. I think I have had cause in a previous match report to call Toby Harlow “Toby the Unready” before and he was certainly that today. It started when he was late at the club having overslept (surely he has to be fined for this) and left his van in a pub car park, then and that was the main impediment in his eyes – he had no shampoo – (there is shampoo crunch in Downe village it appears), and no towel and no shin pads. But he now has 10 victories, more than any other team manager in the club – ha. Pete Harvey got his deserved goal to stay as top scorer with a neat turn and low shot, from an Ian Shoebridge cross, as the keeper over-balanced (4-1).
Toby Harlow was heard to say that he had contributed to that fourth goal by “peeling off”. The only peeling off that Toby Harlow did was to peel the wrapper off mini Easter eggs. But his Easter egg assists were well short of Toby Manchip’s. The facilities at the ground had caused Manchip to go to the nearest shop to get water but having decided to bring Easter forward by two weeks he came back with packets of mini-Easter eggs (and at least one large bottle of Peroni). Toby Manchip was rested partly as he reported he was unwell. The main symptom seemed to be a bloated feeling and possibly trapped wind (but not much could be done about that at the ground given the mineral formations mentioned above). I am not a doctor but if I were I would not prescribe the numerous Stellas and packets of mini Easter eggs that Toby self-administered. I am not a betting man either but from the torso he uncovered in the bar, to Des Fallon’s delight, the odds on Toby Manchip being the first Farnborough player to have a gastric band got shorter today.
Man-of-the-match: Pete Harvey – whose football did most of the talking this time though he also had some choice words for his own teammates, and some rather amusing remarks (including the gastric band reference) back in our good old and clean Farnborough Club House.