Sunday 21st March 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Older Vets lose 4-3 to artful dodgers from Staplehurst
Not many people know this but Staplehurst was the centre of police enquiries in 2006 in connection with the Securitas Depot robbery, and Charles Dickens was a passenger on the train that crashed in Staplehurst in 1865. And today in 2010, on the first day of spring, we had not quite daylight robbery but Farnborough pockets got picked today – and we asked for it – as we left the gold watch on show, the keys in the ignition and the back door open.
We felt this would be quite a useful side as they all filed in impressively in their red tops. Their organisation, discipline and resilience gave them a win that we thought was harsh on us, given the amount of possession we had and the chances we created. We had a 10 to 15 minute senior moment in the second half that we never quite recovered from as time ran out.
Our line-up showed some changes from last week: Paul Commons appeared in goal; for the first time (for Farnborough and for many years); Steve Blanchard, Nick Kinnear, Patrice Mongelard and Toby Manchip were in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, Mark Perry and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks up front. We had four subs – of which three came on – Roger French, Rod Loe, Colin Ebdon, and Mick Ingram.
The early exchanges left us in no doubt that this was a very useful team, that could play a bit and it took us a good ten to fifteen minutes to assert ourselves. We steadily began to ask more questions of the organised and packed Staplehurst defence. We passed the ball well and got behind them several times and forced a few corners. Their keeper stood out with two or three very good saves from Mark Perry and Andy Faulks in particular. Andy drove a piledriver into the heart of the Staplehurst defence which whoever stopped it did well to stay upright (like a staple - the old saxon word for post) but will hurt in the morning.
It was no surprise when we took the lead – what was surprising was the scorer. From our third or fourth corner Ian Shoebridge flicked on a header which Toby Manchip nodded in with precision at the far post. Toby had been moaning about not being able to get up unlike the other full back Patrice Mongelard and on virtually his second foray in the box found himself in the right place at the right time. This was vindication of the management team’s refusal to accede to Manchip’s exorbitant secret demands during the week, made in return for going in goal: club captain for life, penalty taker for the next ten seasons, freedom of Farnborough, free beer for every month with an “r” in it. This was not the only good decision by the management about Toby today as we will find out later.
Just when we were looking forward to a second goal – Staplehurst nicked an equaliser as we failed twice to deal with successive corners. They had reminded us a couple of times of the danger that they posed. They had two artful forwards that needed a bit of watching as we were to find out to our cost in the second half.
After reading runes, playing snakes and ladders, frustration and fiddling with an abacus – according to Manchip – the management team of French & Mongelard made changes for the second half as Colin Ebdon and Mick Ingram came on for Mark Perry and Paul Bell. I would like to say that these half-time changes knocked us back a bit as we lost shape and rhythm, but that would not quite explain how we took a 2-1 lead after 10 minutes or so. Patrice Mongelard did what we often fail to do and that was to get into the box to follow up on a shot by Paul Smith anticipating the keeper would not gather it. The ball was parried to the edge of the six-yard box from whence Patrice crossed it back and this led to a fantastic volley from the edge of the box by Andy Faulks as he adjusted his crab-like stance to blast the ball into the net.
What followed was Dickensian in its horror as Staplehurst got three quick goals in about 12 minutes – first we were overrun on our left and the ball was nodded into our goal at close range from a seemingly innocuous cross; this was followed by a missed opportunity to gather the ball in a one-to-one which left the Staplehurst forward with an empty net to steer the ball into. Worse was to come in the form of an own goal as Nick Kinnear stretched a leg to cut out a cross and directed the ball into his own net.
We reacted – much to our credit, and put the Staplehurst goal under even more pressure. Patrice Mongelard had a glancing header saved on the line and then put the rebound over the bar from a yard out. Colin Ebdon eventually started to get the ball into the box and we started to get back into the game. Roger French came on for Nick Kinnear and immediately proved the wisdom of Staplehurst players wearing shin pads (they had had the good sense to borrow a pair from Farnborough before the game) – but before you get the wrong impression this game was played in excellent spirit throughout. Patrice Mongelard dropped back into the centre of defence and was on hand to put in a saving tackle to stop Staplehurst getting a fifth.
Toby Manchip was moved to right midfield and from there proceeded to register his second goal, our third, with a belter from 20 yards following a pass from Paul Smith. There was a hint of a deflection but this was an impressive strike – which Toby hopes may have been spotted by a Cudham talent scout in the bushes. In the end we ran out of time – though not before a tantalising moment when referee Mick Gearing put his whistle to his mouth when a Staplehurst arm connected with the ball in the box with about two minutes to go but Mick was up to his old tantric trick again and did not blow.
Man of the match was Toby Manchip, honestly, for two excellent goals, and for proving the management right to play him where we did, and for pinning the Farnborough badge on Oliver Manchip – probably the youngest person ever to wear the Farnborough badge who was able to look across the room at Vic Farrow - probably the oldest person to wear the Farnborough badge. I make it there were about 75 years between them. In spite of our defeat today we had not dishonoured the badge.
Deserving of mention also are Shirley for the usual excellent fare which we hope Staplehurst can match for the return fixture in a few weeks' time and Rod Loe who opted to not come on at half time but put the flags out, hoovered the club house, ran the line and helped with the goal posts.
Man of the match: Toby Manchip