Sunday 7th September 2008
By Roger French
Following the false start to the season from last week (Lloyds Golden Oldies had a senior moment over dates) coupled with the non-stop torrential rain on Friday and Saturday it was indeed a pleasant surprise to find that the revised opening fixture for the Vets was still on. Even more pleasing was the fact that Toby Harlow had obviously been very busy leading up to the close of the transfer window either that or some of the Arab oil money had found its way to Farnborough to enable us to boost the ageing Vets squad with no less than 5 new recruits under the age of 40. Most of these “new” recruits were long serving Farnborough Saturday players who can now see the benefits of playing at a slightly slower pace so welcome to Matt Wright, Neil Connelly, Darren Mace and Pete Harvey together with new, new recruit Simon Harvey who I last saw some 12 years ago under the influence of a pre-med jab – but that’s another story.
With Toby Harlow arriving late the team selection was dictated via mobile and we lined up with Matt Wright in goal, a defence of Pat Mongelard, Chris Webb, Steve Blanchard and Trevor Stewart, midfield of Paul Storkey, Neil Connelly, Chris Ponulak and Colin Ebdon with Paul Smith and Pete Harvey up front. The unusually full subs bench consisted of Chris Bourlet, Toby Harlow, Darren Mace, Simon Harvey and me. The renowned whistle blower, Mark James, had managed to interpret a confirmation message from Vic into a cancellation notice and was therefore delayed whilst he finished off his eggy soldiers. As a result the game kicked off with Darren in charge of the whistle and he managed to use it more times in the 5 minutes he was in charge compared to the rest of the game from when MJ took over.
The introduction of new players paid dividends with the Vets building on the passing game that we developed during last season and the introduction of “youth” up front saw a lot more movement and subsequently good chances being created. If it wasn’t for a number of very good saves by the Orpington keeper we would have been 3 up within 20 minutes and Pete Harvey would have marked his debut with a couple of goals. As it was a defensive slip let in an Orpington attacker who despite the best efforts of Matt in goal found the inside of the far post to put Orpington 1-0 against the run of play. This led to a 10 minute period of panic but with Neil controlling the centre we pulled ourselves back into the game. This was good stuff to watch with plenty of passing and running from midfielders like Colin Ebdon and Paul Storkey. Defensively we were well organised with Chris Webb marshalling the back line and a solid performance from Matt in goal and eventually a couple of the numerous chances were put away by Pete and Neil to put us 2-1 up at half-time.
The half-time break brought a new experience to the Vets manager who by now had found his way to the ground in a rather tight fitting stripey body stocking. Not used to having this number of players available for one game Toby set about making sure everybody got a reasonable appearance on pitch.
With a couple of defensive changes made the second half continued but we seemed to have lost a bit of momentum and it was Orpington who had the better of the first 20 minutes or so. Orpington had changed their keeper at half-time but the substitute keeper continued to make some valuable stops. One notable pile driver from Chris Webb was diverted one handed onto the cross bar. The game should have been sewn up long before by FOBG but it took until the last few minutes for Paul Smith to continue where he left off last season to bag his first goal of the season and our third of the game. I suspect that there will be a bit more competition for this season''s golden boot award but Paul will obviously be up there.
With our best start to a season for a long time (unbeaten after two weeks!) and the addition of some very useful players plus 3 or 4 of last season’s players to come back things are definitely looking good.