Sunday 6th September 2009
By Patrice Mongelard
“Tough time for new management team as old Farnborough vets let 1-0 half-time lead slip in 1-3 defeat against local rivals Orpington.”
And so began Farnborough’s bold experiment with two vets teams this season. Last year we had more than enough for one vets team. This year we were looking to have sufficient numbers for two teams and in a way we did not quite manage that today – though to be fair there were a number of absentees we hope to see back next week.
The number who turned up for vets training was not a reliable indicator, nor was the team sheet in the newsletter which included several no-shows. The mood of uncertainty was compounded by the absence of our helmsman for these past seasons, Toby Harlow and it fell to the new management team of Roger French and Patrice Mongelard to steer the ship today. Frantic last minute efforts to find players had resulted in the bare 11 for the old vets thanks to Toby Manchip and Vic Farrow drawing on their contacts. The young vets had more than 11 players but the transfer window was shut.
For this first match away to Orpington at Mottingham Playing Fields the old vets lined up with Toby Manchip in goal; Roger French, Trevor Stewart, Steve Blanchard and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Colin Ebdon, Andy Faulks, Tom Smart and Sinisa Cracahin in midfield, Paul Smith and Ian Shoebridge up front.
These were mostly familiar names with new boys Andy Faulks (Manchip’s mate helping out as he has done before), Tom Smart (age at less than a third of the oldest vet in the team) drafted in through Vic Farrow, and new regular Sinisa – a tidy, efficient, robust midfielder who had a very good game.
Manchip had harboured hopes of playing outfield but with confusion surrounding the availability of the new keeper Manchip took one for the team today – well three actually. And it could have been four as Orpington “missed” a penalty although Manchip’s role in that penalty miss was subtle to the point of non-existence.
Conditions for both teams were challenging: a hard, dry pitch, a light ball that was hard to control and keep on the ground, or indeed in play on the pitch, a stiff breeze that favoured the team playing with it. Both teams were evenly matched though playing with the wind Farnborough had the advantage in the first half – Ian Shoebridge hit the post before Paul Smith scored after some good work down the right by Andy Faulks and Trevor Stewart. Paul deserved a second with a long range shot that came off the bar. And there was also a strong suspicion that Farnborough had scored another in that half as the keeper fumbled a shot from Paul Smith, and appeared to scoop the ball out from well behind the line but in the absence a linesman the defending side got the benefit of the doubt. We also failed to make the most of corners (unlike Orpington in the second half) with clear chances at the far post not anticipated. In fairness Orpington missed a penalty, harshly awarded by a referee that appeared to the neutral observer to not want to upset the home side.
As there were no substitutes the management team had no need to call on their vast experience (combined age almost 100) to make any tactical decisions at half time. But now we were playing on the break and Orpington made the most of long throws into the box and forced a string of corners. Two of these yielded goals for them in quick succession as they posted a greater physical presence in the box. Twice we failed to clear the ball and were punished with scrappy goals (with a hint of foul play as Manchip scrabbled in the dust bravely to gather loose balls at the tip of flying boots). With five minutes to go as we pressed for an equaliser another Orpington corner gave them a carbon copy third goal. To give away one goal from a set piece is unfortunate, to give away two is careless, three is criminal. After that we ran out of time and the ball ran out of play too much – just as we’d run out of players even before the game started.
In between all this in that second half we fashioned chances for Paul Smith, Ian Shoebridge, the youthful Tom Smart and at the death in a one-to-one Andy Faulks. A draw would have been a fair result but in the end we had to accept defeat in a game played in good spirit.
There were some positives though: there were oranges and Jaffa cakes at half time; Vic Farrow got the subs money; eight of us came back to Farnborough for a shower and a beer; Roger French brought his matrix approach to the administration of team affairs; the catering has been sorted for our home games; team spirit is high and there was no moaning amongst ourselves in spite of the defeat and we all enjoyed our football. And everybody had a full game.
Man of the match was Steve Blanchard.