Sunday 5th April 2009
By Patrice Mongelard
Vets innings not quite enough in 5-2 defeat against Lloyds Golden Oldies.
On a sunny April morning at the Kent County Cricket Club in Beckenham we knew this would be a sticky wicket for Farnborough. Our last match against Lloyds Golden Oldies in September 2007 had resulted in a 6-0 defeat. But this season we have had many of our own golden moments and we were looking forward to a stern test of how far we have improved since then. As it turned out we have improved but even if the score flattered Lloyds a little we could not shine as bright as they did in the end.
When I eventually arrived at the ground after allowing Toby Harlow to navigate our convoy there via the scenes of many of his electrical jobs – some still unpaid – “I’m still owed two and half grand from a job in that road” - the team that assembled there consisted of: Gary Rosslee in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Chris Webb, and Toby Manchip in defence; Paul Tanton, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Harvey and Neil Connelly in midfield; newcomer Craig Belgrave and Pete Harvey up front. Subs were Trevor Stewart, Darren Mace, Roger French and Toby Harlow (not all of whom came on as will be explained).
This was a hard, physical match on a pitch that could have done with a bit of watering before the game, against a team with a lot of skill, muscle and tactical awareness (which had been strengthened, as if they needed it, with the cream of several players from Wickham Park). However, we had the better of the early exchanges. Pete Harvey was full of running and Craig was mobile and strong. We came closest to scoring in that early period – Pete Harvey had a shot that missed narrowly after pressing from Farnborough had induced an error in the Lloyds defence with the keeper off his line. Paul Tanton and Ian Shoebridge were linking up well on the right side to give the Lloyds defence much to think about. But things were not quiet at our end either. Lloyds had two good and well-built centre forwards who were adept at holding the ball and linking up with bustling midfielders and getting at the end of searching long balls. Gary Rosslee pulled off a number of saves to keep them out – until about 25 minutes into the game, when the two forwards combined well at close range to score.
We reacted well. Their keeper was probably their weakest link and we began to test him. One memorable close attempt came from the boot of Toby Manchip who controlled the ball on his over-sized page 3 nipples from 25 yards out and let fly. Then there was a cruel twist – a couple of minutes or so before half time when Lloyds scored from a near post header at a corner.
No changes were made at half time. We got back in the game early in the second half when a cross-cum-shot from Paul Tanton was spilled by the keeper and Craig Belgrave made sure it crossed the line with his first goal for the vets on his debut. We failed to capitalise on this as soon after we were 3-1 down. There was a suspicion that foul play had yielded the goal-scoring opportunity and there were several free kicks and off sides given against us in that game that gave a feeling that we were playing on some sort of doctored wicket. 3-1 became 4-1 with a yorker of a free kick from arguably the best player on the pitch – a long-haired import from Wickham Park, looking a bit like that bloke from Status Quo, who had clearly played at a higher level in days gone by.
That would have been the right moment for Toby Harlow to bring the subs on I felt. But perhaps what stayed his hand was our second goal as we got back in the game fairly promptly when Chris Webb’s clever lofted pass was gathered and lashed into the Lloyds net from close range by Ian Shoebridge. The over-exercised flag-raising linesman from Wickham Park was over-ruled by the umpire and the goal stood.
Before we could build on this long-haired bloke struck again, running through to get the better of our keeper in a one-to-one. Two of the subs came on – Darren Mace and Trevor Stewart. Roger French was not brought on to his obvious annoyance and water bottles scattered like pigeons on the outfield disturbed by a well-struck boundary.
When the game ended we returned to the dressing room – in a subdued mood, not helped by the sight of Roger’s kit crumpled on the floor. He had left early, given away his wicket, even though there was still time to bring him on. The general mood in the dressing room was that all subs should be brought on, including Toby Harlow himself, to play a part. Yes it is nice to want to win games and chase club records but not if it ends like this. A pensive Toby Harlow acknowledged this on the way home in the car as we returned to Farnborough by the quick route and our conversation turned to a second vets team next year for the over 45s and our end-of-season meal at the classy buffet place REKU ZEN in Orpington.
Man-of-the-match: Gary Rosslee for a 24-carat performance in goal – even though he was beaten five times – oh well 19-carat then.