Sunday 8th March 2009
By Patrice Mongelard with a second report by Roger French
St Paul(s) of Farnborough vets see off Santos
As befits a winner of the Farnborough OBG quiz (errrr, that's 'Joint winner' (ed., at the request, nay, insistence of Paul Parsons.) you would expect me to know Santos is Portuguese for saint(s) and in this period of Lent we were certainly tested today but prevailed, our faith in our management and in ourselves intact.
Santos is also a well-known Brazilian football club – and sadly there were no Brazilian fans at Farnborough today but there were a couple of moments of samba football from Farnborough.
Manager Tobinho Harlow (that’s Portuguese for little Toby as we also have a big Toby) put out the following team: Gary Rosslee in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, Matt Wright and Steve Blanchard in defence; Neil Connelly, Paul Tanton, Paul Storkey, and (big) Toby Manchip in midfield: Paul Smith and Pete Harvey up front. Subs were Trevor Stewart, Chris Ponulak, Simon Harvey, Darren Mace, Colin Ebdon and Roger French – all of whom came on and played a part – and in some instances quite a memorable one - more on that later.
Our start was as bright and crisp as the weather – it felt like Santos did not touch the ball in the first 5 minutes. But gradually they made more of a contest of it – they appeared to have some rather young vets and a few individuals of no small skill and shooting power, particularly with the left foot – not quite Rivelino or Gerson but you get the idea. They also had a giant of a centre half – nothing Brazilian or saintly about him – whose tackling was very agricultural and our own (St) Peter Harvey was sorely tried by him, as was (St) Matthew Wright in a by-line body check. The referee Mick Gearing had a job keeping things under control for a while.
Against the run of play Santos took the lead – we were overrun on the right flank, a good cross came in, our defenders and keeper could not cut it out and Santos bundled the ball in. Not quite a miracle but we were stung and we reacted. We forced several corners, we were playing with the wind in the first half, and we began to exert pressure. This culminated in an equaliser from (St) Paulo Smith of Brazilian quality – close control on the edge of the box, deceptive pace to go round the defender and a crisp shot with little backlift that flew past the keeper into the corner of the net. Another (St) Paul – Storkey this time, claimed later he was available to tap the ball in – had Smithy passed to him (now that would have been miraculous). More chances came: (St) Matthew Wright hit the post with a header from six yards when the keeper was stranded; (St) Paul Smith shot narrowly wide after electing not to pass to an increasingly frustrated and grumpy (St) Peter Harvey in the box.
Half time saw a number of substitutes come on as we played against the wind. We started playing on the break and soaked a lot of pressure. Santos began to shoot from distance, not always on target, but Gary Rosslee had to make a number of good saves. We were always capable of breaking down the flanks with Colin Ebdon (who can dribble like a Brazilian) on the left and (St) Paul Tanton on the right – and so it came to pass as we created a second goal that any Brazilian team would be happy to claim. It was silkily crafted in one-twos between Paul Tanton and Neil Connelly on the right culminating in an unselfish pass from Paul Tanton that gave Neil what looked like a tap–in but required balance and composure to convert from six yards.
One of the Farnborough substitutes that had joined the fray – Darren Mace – a graduate with honours from the Boris Johnson school of tackling – shook the ground as he attempted to round a Santos player that failed to get out of his way. Both took a while to rise up Lazarus-like.
It was clear that a third goal was needed as the Santos linesman claimed in an exchange with Tobinho that this game had 2-2 written all over it – what a false prophet he turned out to be. Our prayers were answered when (St) Paul Tanton turned his defender inside out and unselfishly rolled the ball across the box to (St) Paul Smith whose first attempt was blocked by the keeper but the ball rebounded off Smithy into the net. Alleluia.
(St) Simon Harvey created some chances from the right in the closing stages – one such passage of play resulted in a good through ball to Roger French roaming inside the box in vain search of a goal but there would be no miracle - Roger’s first touch was so relaxed that he ended up horizontal. Roger felt that several devils in the blades of grass had tangled themselves around his studs. Others thought that my nan had made an apparition just at the moment when the ball reached Roger. Another explanation had something to do with not enough warming up, too many cakes from Jaffa in the holy land and the weight of that Christ-like beard that Roger is growing for Lent. Sadly, no one thought that Roger could have been injured in this contortion.
There was time for Simon to exact what may have seemed like some old testament retribution on the Santos centre half for (St) Peter Harvey’s suffering but as usual in moments like this, all agreed he never touched him and got the ball.
Man of the match – (St) Matthew Wright.
Next week – away against Maidstone vets - where I would not mind a small miracle.
Luckily there was only one home fixture at the club on Sunday which gave us the extra dressing room to accommodate the large vets squad currently all vying for a place in the starting line-up. Toby H’s team selection is often shrouded in secrecy, so much so that he has taken to writing it up on the board in invisible ink – that or the club needs to invest in some new marker pens that work. Once we had deciphered the board it became apparent that we were to line up as follows:
Gary Rosslee GK
Pat Mongelard RB
Chris Webb CB
Steve Blanchard CB
Toby Manchip LB
Paul Storkey RM
Matt Wright CM
Neil Connelly CM
Paul Tanton LM
Pete Harvey CF
Paul Smith CF
Subs: Chris Ponulak, Colin Ebdon, Simon Harvey, Darren Mace. Trev Stewart and Roger “I can’t stand up for falling down” Costello.
Manager: Toby Harlow
Referee: Micky Gearing
Linesman: Steve Blanchard jnr
Mr Grumpy turned up late and almost lost out on full kit until bruv Simon donated his and threatened to turn out in pants only as a protest to the lack of kit. George made an appearance to return his redundant kit and sense prevailed along with the usual amount of sympathy dished out for George’s enforced end of season but still Toby enquired if he would like to run the line.
The game kicked off in bright spring sunshine with a stiff, crisp breeze and we dominated the first 10 minutes with Santos getting very little of the ball with some excellent passing football. The first bit of controversy occurred when Matt Wright was charging through the box following up a loose ball when the giant Santos centre back ran straight through him with what could only be termed a robust challenge claiming he could not stop in time. Nothing was given by the referee as apparently the ball was out of play by the time contact had been made. Shortly after this the same player made a pretty hefty tackle to stop Pete Harvey progressing (no foul committed or claimed for) but things began to get a bit niggly for a while and eventually Mick stepped in and warned the players concerned.
Against the run of play Santos took the lead with the ball coming down the right causing problems for our over stretched defence and Santos were 1-0 up. A bit of team bickering resulted and a few spats were seen – better to channel this aggression and focus on getting back on terms. Eventually we got back into the run of things with Smithy doing what he does best as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box, took the ball round one defender and planted an excellent shot in the top left corner to bring us level.
This sparked a spell of pressure that saw Matty hit the foot of the post with the keeper stranded and Smithy go narrowly wide with another shot but as it was the halftime scores were equal. Toby’s list of substitutions was put to good use with Steve Blanchard and Pete Harvey coming off with injuries while others continued to wait their chance.
The wind had picked up by the time the second half started and we were now playing into it. This allowed Santos to push forward and were not averse to shooting from distance but luckily were mainly off target or were kept out by “safe hands” Rosslee. We soaked up a fair bit of pressure and hit them on the break with a well worked goal involving some neat inter passing between Tant and Neil resulting in Neil tucking away a tidy goal to put us in the lead.
Whilst we didn’t look like we were going to lose this game Santos were a lively threat in the second half with plenty of players who could shoot from distance. A third goal was required to give us a bit of breathing space and once again Tant was the provider and Smithy, with a bit of good fortune was the executioner, as he had a good shot parried well by the keeper only for the ball to rebound off Smithy into the back of the net to put him top of the scorers for this season.
Toby continued with substitutions and even promised me the last 15 minutes up front which soon changed to fill in centre midfield after we scored our third only for him to relent with less than 10 minutes to go and on I went for my desperate search for my goal for the season. By now chances up front were few and far between so I probably touched the ball three times during which I provided the watching crowd with plenty to laugh about as the first opportunity created by Simon cutting in from the right saw my studs glued to the ground as I attempted to turn on goal and ended up going to ground as if shot by a passing sniper. Still at least the Santos defender managed to show some concern as I limped to my feet with peals of laughter ringing in my ears. Shortly after my final contribution was to be caught offside as Trev played a lovely through ball to me – back to the drawing board.
A very good win to come back from a goal down to continue our quest to beat our previous season’s best of 12 wins with 9 games left to play and 7 wins under our belt. Next week a tough game away to Maidstone and rumours abound that Toby M is not available. We also have been invited to partake in a Belgian football festival in May and seriously need to consider how we can create a second vets team for next season so some of us can get more than 10 minutes of football on a Sunday – who would be a manager!