Sunday 29th November 2009
By Patrice Mongelard
Buff spring chickens rule roost over Farnborough
If you watched Doctor Who a couple of weeks ago you may recall the Doctor saying “Water always wins”. I think he added “especially when Farnborough Vets have a home game”. No it is not a case of K9 offloading on the pitch though that is one theory – it is instead those enormous cumulonimbus clouds that appear at the weekend from some distant galaxy, in every weather forecast that Roger French produces as part of his appliance of science to our games. Some of us call these clouds – ruefully and affectionately – “Vic Farrow” clouds because they inevitably result in an unwanted call from the man himself on Sunday mornings – as he has done for the last 3 weeks. A tough and unpopular job but someone has to do it. Still we had an away game today so football won, even if we did not.
We drew 3-3 with the Buff a few weeks ago and were hoping for at least a draw today but the Buff had other ideas – and as well as arguably the man of the match in Barry Grainger (with his hat-trick) they had three or four players in key positions who had hatched a little more recently we did. Their pace rather than malice resulted in some challenges not in keeping with a vets game but in the end the match was played in good spirit and there were no ruffled feathers - even when one of their road runners accidentally tripped over my outstretched foot when clean on goal (well scythed down from the back like some fledgling in a field, really – good thing the ref was one of ours).
Farnborough lined up with: Gary Fentiman in goal; Nick Kinnear, Toby Manchip, Steve Blanchard and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Chris Webb, Sinisa Gracanin, Andy Faulks and Colin Brazier in midfield; Paul Smith and Ian Shoebridge up front. Mick Ingram, Rod Loe and Trevor Stewart all came on in the second half.
Had the Doctor been watching this game he would have seen a first 20 minutes or so with Farnborough getting the better of it. In that time there were two memorable chances for Farnborough – Ian Shoebridge had a 25-yarder bound for the top corner that was saved by the Buff keeper (who made it look like he had wings) and Andy Faulks had a 1-to-1 that did not go our way.
But then the Buff had a purple patch. The next 20 minutes were theirs and in that time they put three eggs in our nest. First Barry Grainger was left with time and space to turn on the edge of the box and crafted an exquisite left-foot chip that beat our keeper. Five minutes later he hit a speculative shot that Gary shaped up to collect as it rolled to him on the ground but at the last minute it hit a divot, bounced off Gary’s left shoulder and nestled in the top corner. Worse came soon after with a high ball over the defence that Gary looked favourite to clear until one of the Buff road runners appeared on the scene and managed to steer the ball into the net (meep, meep! – and that was 3-0 to the Buff at half time).
Changes were made at half time with Rod Loe and Trevor Stewart coming on to give us a new right side. Nick Kinnear took over the referee’s whistle from Rod Loe. I can almost hear Alan Hansen say that the worst thing to do when you are 3-0 down at half-time is to concede an early second half goal – and that is what we did. Another divot caused a defensive lapse (from yours truly) and Barry Grainger was through for an unerring finish. Oddly this seemed like the only second half clear chance that the Buff had.
The last 10 to 15 minutes were as good a patch as Farnborough enjoyed in that game. We had some clear chances – one in particular on the goal line for Trevor Stewart that was inexplicably missed. Andy Faulks came back on and troubled the Buff defence. Paul Smith had a long range shot that looked goal-bound. There was even a moment when the Buff keeper had flown away from his perch and the empty goal beckoned but we could not get the ball over. The scoreline was harsh in the end but the Buff had the sharper players where it mattered.
It was all a bit of a damp squib after the game. The showers were more like bird baths. The mood was subdued in keeping with the weather. People drifted away rather quickly and there was not the usual social interaction and even a quip from Toby Manchip about having a serious talk with the “real management” about his best playing position fell flat. There was no after match drink or sandwiches. No match subs were collected (except from Sinisa). No man of the match votes were cast – which was probably right, as we would probably all have voted for Barry Grainger. There was not exactly a rush of volunteers to take the kit home but in the end Nick Kinnear did the deed.
We have unknown opponents next week – Old Tamponians, and the opportunity to restore some confidence to the side. And Doctor Who, please note it is an away game. Next week will, we hope, see the return of Toby “Noel” Harlow – aka as Lord Lumiere of Downe, having completed the act of bestowing festive illumination on his grateful subjects, to add some much needed lustre to our performance. And back too is Roger French to restore some proper management.
Man of the match: Barry Grainger (Buff)