Sunday 7th December 2008
By Patrice Mongelard
“Vets stun Wickham Park in second half to record a memorable victory (4-2) followed by a more questionable result in the clubhouse”
If our 2-2 draw against Wickham park a few weeks ago was a sign of our progress what then of this victory? Here too we came back from 0-2 but this time finished the job.
On a crisp, clear, cold, dry, still and sunny morning with a crunchy pitch under foot Farnborough Vets resumed playing football after a 3-week pause. The starting 11 were: Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Matt Wright, Chris Webb and Trevor Stewart in defence; Paul Tanton, Chris Ponulak, Neil Connelly and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Paul Smith and Pete Harvey up front. Subs were Toby Harlow, Chris Bourlet and Colin Ebdon. George Kleanthous was also there but played the first half for Wickham Park. Toby Harlow ran the risk of losing the dressing room with this loan but George had sportingly offered to help Wickham out as they had only 10 players. I cannot remember the last time any opponent did this for us – and certainly not with a player of George’s calibre. Anyway George more than made up for this later.
The first half will be remembered for two Wickham Park goals against the run of play. The first was a 30-yarder which according to Toby Manchip dipped, swerved, zig-zagged, stopped in mid-air and started again – and basically led to a “Gomes” moment. The second Wickham goal was even curiouser – a long range free-kick that came off the underside of the bar, hit Toby Manchip on the head, bounced out and as Matt Wright shaped up to clear it, he misconnected and it trickled into the goal off his standing foot. Not a pretty goal and one for the What Happened Next? archives. Like George though Matt would redeem himself later.
We never gave up in that half, applying sustained pressure and raining crosses and shots at the Wickham goal but kept finding out how good the Wickham keeper was. Paul Smith was tripped by my nan as he shaped up for a sitter in the 6-yard box as the keeper parried a belter from Neil Connelly. But like George and Matt – Smithy would redeem himself too later.
The mood at half-time was positive, Some reflected – if only we’d offered them Manchip instead of George! Roger appeared with two little Frenchies to give advice and support.
Toby “Felipe” Harlow put his masterplan in action. Chris Bourlet and Colin Ebdon came on to give purposeful and energetic performances; George returned to the fold and Trevor went into the Wickham Park defence. As a keen observer of the game Paul Tanton noted that our performance improved greatly once Neil Connelly came off. A more telling change I think came when the Wickham keeper swapped places with his injured central defender. By then Farnborough were back in it. A powerful, low and angled shot from Matt Wright had induced a “Gomes” moment in the seemingly unbeatable Wickham Park keeper to bring the score to 1-2. This was all the more welcome as moments earlier the keeper had saved a point blank diving header from Pete Harvey that brought back memories of Banks and Pele in Mexico in 1970. But our tails were up – two quick and almost identical close range goals from George fox-in-the-box Kleanthous had given us the edge. Both goals came from good work down the left from Colin Ebdon and Pete Harvey.
Wickham continued to rely on breakaways and errors but none came to anything. We remained solid and Paul Smith crowned the day with a brave header to make it 4-2 after (as we were reminded) yet more selfless work from Pete Harvey.
Now to what happened in the clubhouse: in a voting result that Robert Mugabe would have been proud of Toby Manchip “won” the man-of-the-match award. It was rumoured the Christmas lights would be coming on at Downe later to mark this. Yes this was his birthday weekend (and he had the T-shirt to prove it) but I sensed a feeling in the air something was not quite right. Still those who knew of the journey Toby had made to play in this game will not question his commitment – he even said that he had stopped drinking at some point in the evening before because of the game.
Next week – Toby Vets. We have some unfinished business with them.