Sunday 14th February 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Roger & Co in 3-1 Delayed Valentine\'s Day Triumph over Sanco
Having followed my own advice in my last match report about keeping partners happy on this day - I was in a good mood as I swung my lovemobile into the Farnborough car park and looking forward to a good game against worthy opponents who had beaten us 2-1 at their ground in Dulwich Village on a very sunny 27th September.
I knew we had a late kick off – after all I had seen many billets-doux about it during the week, but I was not prepared for the large number of cars in the club car park – which looked busier than the repairs department of a Toyota dealership. I ended up driving over unfamiliar ground as I manoeuvred out to park the car in the main road in Farnborough village. That is when I noticed I had picked up a flat tyre.
This punctured my mood a bit but I had to smile at my team mates’ attempts at wit with references to tyregate, spare tyres etc. We also had two rounds of applause for Vic Farrow – fishing for Valentine's Day sweet nothings – as he reminded us of all the hard work he had done to make our game possible, how he’d fixed it with the referee (this did not come out quite right) and allegedly brought forward our late kick off to 11:00. I think he made that last bit up because when we got to the top pitch we had to wait 18 minutes for the youth team game to finish.
When the game started – nearer 11:30, we lined up with Steve Palmer in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Roger French and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Brazier and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Toby Manchip up front. Rod Loe and Chris Bourlet were the subs. Those of you who follow our team line-ups closely will not fail to notice that this was the same defence as for the team that lost 2-1 to Sanco on 27 September. Indeed 10 of our 13 players today played in that game. But two who did not were Ian Shoebridge and Toby Manchip – and that was quite telling in the end even though this was a much better collective performance from us – against a team which, if anything were more impressive than when they beat us on their excellent pitch, but they may have found our pitch a bit of a leveller (especially as previously the pitch had been churned up a bit).
The first 15 minutes belonged to Sanco – playing crisp one touch football, with crafty forwards very comfortable playing with their back to goal. They passed the ball a lot, moved well off it, but apart from a couple of corners were finding it hard to penetrate the Farnborough box. They did though score a very good goal after a quarter of an hour or so - as they got behind us with a couple of clever moves capped with a cut-back and very good close-range finish to wrong foot Steve Palmer in the Farnborough goal.
We reacted very well –Toby Manchip came close with headers twice and we kept creating chances. Paul Smith, Paul Bell, Colin Brazier and Ian Shoebridge began to ask questions of the Sanco defence, which creaked but survived until half-time. The mood at half-time was that we would not finish sans goal against Sanco.
Rod Loe came on for Roger French and we continued to maintain a solid defensive platform and we began to dominate the game, as Ian Shoebridge and Sinisa Gracanin got on top in midfield and our forwards and wide players began to find gaps in the Sanco defence and we forced several corners.
Our equaliser when it came was well deserved – after 60 minutes, as Ian Shoebridge headed a Paul Smith cross chipped in from the edge of the box. Chris Bourlet came on for Paul Bell and maintained the solidity of our performance on the right. 10 minutes later Toby Manchip turned on a pin head with his back to goal, sent his marker the wrong way and the whole of the goal opened up in front of him as he swept the ball in from 6 yards. This turned out to be his best move of Valentine’s Day – more on that later - even though he did express great affection for the management team of French & Mongelard, who, in his view, had finally got it right today – several months into the season.
Sanco were not out of it; they forced a couple of dangerous free-kicks on the edge of the box, and one or two corners and had a decent shout for a penalty turned down. We had yet to apply the icing on our Valentine’s Day cake and this came as Colin Brazier teed up Ian Shoebridge for an exquisite curled left-foot shot from just inside the box that came off the inside of the post to give us 3-1 advantage. There was time for a final flourish from the hard-working, but today unrewarded Paul Smith, as his shot came off the crossbar with about 5 minutes left.
This was probably our best performance this season. The keeper and defence were assured. Colin Brazier had his best game for us – they say ex (es) can cause trouble on a day like today and he certainly did to Sanco. Sinisa was full of running and positional sense. Our two subs brought muscle and resilience when they came on. But today’s roses, chocolates, champagne moments, kisses, red balloons, Vanessa Peroncel products etc. belonged to man-of-the match Ian Shoebridge who ran 13.1 miles during the game (I just made that bit up but it felt like that).
The large crowd, including many mums, that was there to watch the youth team game which preceded ours should have stayed behind for the (heart-shaped) treats we served up. There have been very few games when we have returned to the dressing room in such a positive mood with goodwill and compliments flowing freely and justifiably. During the game we were full of encouragement, praise, compliments for each other. I’d like to think this was not just because it was February the 14th. Paul Smith passed the ball and even brought in the Farnborough and Sanco cups of tea after the game – perhaps because he made Mrs Smith breakfast today.
A possibly less happy breakfast – and I am only guessing here – was chez Manchip – as Helen revealed in the club house that Toby had not followed the advice I gave in my last match report – and there had been no chocolates that morning, and that having a goal dedicated to her – even a very good goal – was deflating.
It was Valentine’s Day today but there was no Shirley at Farnborough to provide the sandwiches – so the much-applauded Vic Farrow had rustled something up, much of it wolfed down by the Young Vets - allegedly, which meant I was glad to have some Valentine’s Day chocolates to get home to – unlike some.
Before I could get home though – I had cause to be thankful for the affection of my team mates as Ian Coles (principally), Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier, Ian Shoebridge, a club traffic cone and at the end Chris Bourlet on hand to direct traffic if required, helped replace the punctured tyre on my car in the main road outside the club. Thanks again lads – I owe you a drink, not chocolates, some mead perhaps after our game against Tudor Sports next week.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge