Sunday 4th October 2009
By Patrice Mongelard
“Farnborough Old Vets snatch 3-3 draw from jaws of victory against Old Albany Park”
The news from Vic Farrow in the Farnborough clubhouse was not good. Ian Coles had pulled out overnight as had our keeper Steve Palmer early this morning. By my calculations we were down to 12 but that was not the end of it as I was to find out when I got to the Old Albany Park ground in Sidcup.
First though as I swung my car into the car park I spotted Toby Manchip in a small knot of four Farnborough players - my relief was unmitigated and my joy unconfined – but there was more bad news as we heard that Steve Blanchard had picked up an injury playing yesterday and we were down to 10 (excluding Roger French who had turned up with Master Thomas French – a frite off the old block). We were not sure if Mick Ingram would turn up and a call was made which Nick Kinnear answered from Poverest.
A quick word about the pitch first – the home of Cray Wanderers - it seemed big, almost square, perhaps an optical illusion created by the all-round metal railing, and in serious need of a dose of herbicide. There was a stand which had seen better days and scrub land at the back of the goals (I am sure I have seen ponies there from the A20).
Farnborough eventually lined up with Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Nick Kinnear, Trevor Stewart and Chris Bourlet in defence; Colin Brazier, Andy Faulks, Paul Bell and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Paul Smith and Mick Ingram up front. Roger French was our only substitute but had to keep a close eye on Master French, who put the empty concrete stand to good use on his scooter (more on that vehicle later).
This turned out to be an enjoyable and evenly contested game between two teams that let each other play – there was a lot of passing. It was played in very good spirit throughout – the weather might have had something to do with it. The big pitch also meant there was plenty of room for everyone.
The first half was not as memorable as the second would turn out to be. Albany Park came close with a shot that came off the bar – Toby Manchip may have got a glove on that. The closest Farnborough came to a goal was when Chris Bourlet temporarily forgot he was playing against Albany Park as he made an extraordinary clearance from two yards in their penalty box thereby diverting a goal-bound free kick from Paul Smith. Not much more to say about the first half really – one ball went into the scrub land and took a while to be retrieved – a whole family, three generations wandering off to look look for it in the end. Chris Bourlet managed to put a clearance into the Cray – over the stand.
The second half started with Roger French up front – with Mick Ingram taking over keeping an eye on young French on his scooter. And what a half it was.
First to score were Farnborough from a penalty put away by Paul Smith after Paul Bell was fouled in the box as he swapped passes with Roger French and ran in on goal. It was good to see Paul Smith get this one after last week’s miss from the spot. This stirred Albany Park up and for the next 10 to 15 minutes they put us under real pressure – suddenly they seemed faster, stronger, fiercer and more numerous than us. Toby Manchip pulled off a great save from a point blank header only for the ball to rebound to the same player who forced it over the line. Another memorable save saw a ball rebound off the post and hit Manchip before going out.
Then came a Farnborough rally as we found our second wind. Paul Smith and Sinisa Gracanin combined well down the left – with Sinisa advancing into the box beating two players and hitting a reverse shot into the bottom corner. More joy was to come with a Paul Bell goal as he got to the end of a low cross by Sinisa Gracanin from the right. Paul appeared to miss the chance to convert the cross but discovered he had a left foot after all which he used to put the ball over the line.
With ten minutes left Albany Park scored from a well-taken first time volley from the left that found the bottom corner even before Toby Manchip had moved. An even better goal was scored for Albany by arguably their best player as he hit an overhead kick from the edge of the box with his back to goal, and found the top corner in the final five minutes. And yet after all this there could have been another goal to win the game for us – Roger French turned his marker, was clean through but unfortunately he only uses his right foot to stand on.
In the end a draw was a fair result – not least given the quality of the second and especially third Albany Park goals. But at 3-1 up with 10 minutes left we thought we had the game won. So in a sense we felt we had thrown it away. Perhaps this was the reason why Trevor Stewart did not throw away the water from the bucket as we found out when Master French knocked it over on his scooter in the dressing room.
The man of the match for the third week running was Sinisa “Sidney” Gracanin. Toby Manchip was very pleased with the one vote that he had – which was deserved.
Our opponents next week are Belvedere – an unknown quantity, just like the Farnborough team that will play next week. We need a few back next week as three of those who played today are not available. Come to think of it – five who played last week were not here today. If any of the Old Vets are planning a Sunday off – best to wait until 18 October when we do not have a fixture.