Sunday 28th March 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
6-2 Derby Day Defeat for Farnborough Older Vets against Orpington
The score flattered Orpington but this game was over by half time and those who see half full glasses will say we drew the second half – those who see half empty glasses will say that if this had been a boxing match it would have been stopped when Orpington went 5-0 up.
At half time, I could only think of words like dismal, dire, dreadful. After the game as we sat in the clubhouse and put our beer goggles on, the 3-Ds softened to disappointment, disillusion and (possibly) delusion.
Compared with our recent performances we went back today as the clocks went forward. Yes we were missing some players – like our two goal scorers from last week; and several Orpington players, particularly the goalkeeper, looked younger than we remembered from the last time we played them in September. As the clock keeps ticking it seems it is not just policemen that get younger.
Once again our line-up showed some changes from last week: Gary Fentiman in goal; Steve Blanchard, Nick Kinnear, Roger French and Mick Ingram in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Mark Perry up front. Chris Ponulak was to be our one sub – and arrived from church midway through the first half; and resisted the temptation to go home as the first half unfolded, or to go into the tent that served as a dug-out for Isabelle French and stay there. It looked like those tents in Himalayan base camps. We certainly had a mountain to climb at 4-0 down at half-time.
How did we get ourselves into such a mess? The first fifteen minutes were goalless but the warning signs were ominous: we lacked penetration, there was no forward drive, the midfield was overrun, the defence tentative – the passing was on the wrong side of abysmal. Pundits talk of hunger, desire, commitment – we had none of it.
One or two apologists for our performance pointed to the blurring effect of grey shirts and navy blue shorts playing against black and white stripes with black shorts. This interesting theory does not explain why only Farnborough players had problems with this optical juxtaposition.
The Orpington goals came in quick succession as did the errors from us that led to them: after 15 minutes one of the two lively Orpington forwards, initially with his back to goal was able in rather confined space to spin and squeeze the ball past the keeper at close range. Five minutes later our soft centre was exposed as Orpington came through the middle to register a second. We threatened briefly as Patrice Mongelard burst through from midfield and the rather youthful Orpington keeper was able to come off his line and parry the shot at the edge of the box. The rebound fell to Paul Bell, with an empty net and a horizontal and stranded keeper. Paul claimed that he tried to pick out Paul Smith at the far post. But we all know it was his pathological fear of scoring against a team in black and white stripes that got the better of him. There was to be clearer evidence of this in the second half. Moments later Paul Smith crafted a clever lob from the edge of the box that would have had the beating of most vets keepers, but not the lad in the Orpington goal. Orpington were to add two more goals in the first half: the third from our customary failure to clear corners; and the fourth from what looked suspiciously like an attempted cross.
It could have been worse – we were spared a penalty against us when the honest Orpington forward involved declared that Roger French had tackled him fairly from behind in the six-yard box when he was clean through on goal. In my view he deserves not just the fair play award but the Nobel peace prize - Roger has form I am afraid with this kind of thing, as he was to show in the next half with two similar tackles as a forward, one of which took players from both teams out.
At half-time Chris Ponulak came on to bring some much needed midfield craft and composure to our game. We did have a better second half even if it did not start too well with a long range shot adding to the Orpington lead early on Slowly we began to come back in the game and deservedly scored twice with well executed shots by Paul Smith after lay-offs from Mark Perry. We missed a couple of other good chances when Chris Ponulak put a close range shot over the bar from a corner; and an unchallenged Paul Bell contrived to put a pin-point cross from Patrice Mongelard anywhere but on target from the penalty spot. Old failings returned in the last minute as Patrice Mongelard and Roger French failed to clear a cross and the honest Orpington forward got his reward with a close range shot that was parried onto the underside of the bar and over the line by our keeper.
Man of the match was Mark Perry for his part in our two goals, and for steady improvement from game to game. Votes were generously sprinkled through the team. I cannot confirm whether an under-age vote was cast by Mademoiselle French but papa was pleased with his tally.
Also deserving a mention: Shirley for the impressive spread and the table linen that came out for the 4 vets teams at Farnborough today; our two refs Rod Loe and Mick Gearing – well, Mick had been down to do our game but was asked late in the day to cover the Young Vets' cup game and Rod Loe stepped in, after he’d hoovered the clubhouse (again). The two vets games yielded 15 goals between them, but were played in very good spirit despite the Farnborough Vets teams letting in 4 times as many goals as they scored.
Man of the match: Mark Perry