Sunday 7th March 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Turkeys Lose 3-2 to Orpington Buff
After two weeks without a game we were glad to be back playing – so much so that some of us played for the other team. But it was also a return to old failings as I will explain shortly.
We knew it had been dry but we were not quite prepared for the conditions – a cold wind which blew away whatever warmth came from the bright sun and the contrast between light and shade (about several degrees C) was plain to feel underfoot as we stepped out of the dressing room into the shadow of the building. We also had to contend with a difficult pitch which made for a rutted, hard and bobbly surface. I’d like to say it ruined our passing game but that would be stretching things a bit. But we could not help wondering - later - what could have been if we had switched the game to our unexpectedly free pitch back in Farnborough.
We turned up, from the designated car park and the other one used by Toby Manchip who also went to the wrong dressing room initially, with 14 players and were able to add to the Buff flock which only numbered nine. The usual eve of match and morning of the game changes meant that the management team had to bring in option 3 and even that did not quite cover everything.
We lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Steve Blanchard, Patrice Mongelard, Steve Palmer and Colin Brazier in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Toby Manchip and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Paul Tanton up front. Mick Ingram and Chris Bourlet were the subs. Roger French and Mark Perry played for the Buff – as did Mick Ingram in the second half.
The first half was not as exciting as the second but it had its moments. I recall making my usual move to let the Buff left sided midfielder know “early doors” that I was there only to find out that it was our Roger French. The danger posed by the Buff was clear and we had to be vigilant. They came close to scoring when a shot from Barry Grainger came back from the keeper and only a splendid sliding tackle by Patrice Mongelard stopped a certain goal as Barry shaped up to put the rebound into an empty net. Another glorious chance went begging for the Buff when Roger French materialised in our six-yard box to get to the end of a cut-back and put a close range shot well over the bar. We will never know if, at the last moment, Roger remembered which team he plays for, or he dealt with the ball to the best of his ability with his right foot, or it was that personal bobble that follows some players.
Our highlight in that first half was an uncharacteristic miss by Paul Smith from 10 yards when he had a clear shot at goal. He also put a cross in for Paul Tanton who asked for it at the near post but had failed to say on which pitch.
The second half was more lively – 5 goals – with Farnborough taking the lead twice from Ian Shoebridge. His first owed much to a feathery clearance by the Buff keeper. His second came from a pass by Paul Smith. There was also a volley from Toby Manchip that would have been even better if on target but it was worth a mention.
The Buff had had a couple of corners in the first half that troubled us – and these were a warning we failed to heed as we found to our cost. Soon after we scored our first goal they had a header that crashed against the bar. And, inevitably, their two equalisers came off corners expertly delivered by Barry Grainger. In previous games I have had cause to refer to our “Easter Island Defence” at corners and there was a bit of that creeping back into our game today. The Buff winner also came from a static defence and felt harsh after we had wasted so many chances.
On the whole our forwards did not really play well today or maybe the Buff defence was just (too) tough old birds. Finishing was the difference between the two sides today. It is telling that both our goals came from a midfielder. Even Paul Tanton – so assured a goalscorer and a late addition to our squad following the cancellation of the Young Vets home game - failed to deliver. That failure was no more apparent than when he missed a one-to-one and also inexplicably crossed to no-one when clean through and only 6 yards from goal. By Paul’s usual high standards this was a paltry performance from him.
Toby Manchip lost his way a little before the game and did not really regain it during the game, so much so that he took himself off in the second half, and said he deserved whatever would be written about him in the match report. Well – it is punishment enough that his local is the Buff, and they are not likely to want him to play for them after today, but I will note that, in an act of atonement, Toby led the way in purchasing a Farnborough badge – he should have bought one for everyone in the clubhouse. Yes we had come back to the clubhouse – for the food which Shirley had kindly laid on and also, for some of us, to have a hot shower. We had forgotten how basic the Norman Park facilities were. I have seen bird baths that had more water than those showers and were cleaner. The warm radiator could not make up for that.
Much of the damage inflicted by the Buff today came from two of their players - Barry Grainger and another big bloke that won everything in the air and on the ground (Chris Bradshaw) - both former Farnborough players I understand - a case of chickens coming to roost? Barry even came back to the club to share in the sandwiches that Shirley had made – just as well there were no chicken ones.
Well at least three of our players were on the winning side. This is our third game against the Buff this season, and my second one, and we have yet to beat them. It is a good thing there were no questions about the Orpington Buff in the Farnborough Football Club Quiz last night – otherwise I might not have won it.
Man of the match was Ian Shoebridge for two goals and for one of the few good things about our performance today, with Sinisa Gracanin not far behind in the pecking order.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge