Sunday 14th March 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Please Mums with 4-2 Win over Welsh Tavern
It was about 10 degrees C warmer than last Sunday as we set out in a 4-car convoy from Farnborough to somewhere just shy of the Dartford Bridge. It was a bit breezy but the sun was out and those of us who had looked after our mums, mums-in-law, mums of our kids, today and for the rest of the year, and were allowed to go out to play, were looking forward to a good game against a nice bunch of blokes we last played water polo against (almost).
We lined up with Steve Palmer in goal; Steve Blanchard, Nick Kinnear, Mark Perry and Rod Loe in defence; Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier, Sinisa Gracanin and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Ian Shoebridge. Mick Ingram was our solitary sub today.
Toby Manchip had welched on his mates – after, allegedly, visiting too many taverns the night before to celebrate some other team’s win. Thankfully, the tactical acumen of today’s caretaker manager, Patrice Mongelard, in Roger French’s absence, was up to the job of re-jigging the side into Option 4 – and in some ways that job was made easier with Manchip’s absence.
It was apparent very quickly that this would be an open game with both sides looking to play a bit and in a good spirit. We had more possession – partly because the muscular and mobile presence of Sinisa Gracanin and Patrice Mongelard dominated the midfield. It looked like a matter of time before they would put one of our forwards and overlapping wide midfielders through.
It was a rare bit of skill from Welsh Tavern that gave them the lead, to our surprise, as their forward with the cultured left foot found the top corner from 20 yards – it may have looked like a toe poke but it was meant all right and found the spot. We rallied and Patrice Mongelard put Ian Shoebridge through to round the Welsh Tavern keeper after some confusion in their defence and bring us level. But once again Welsh Tavern surprised us as they cleverly exploited a rare gap on the right side of our defence and unerringly lobbed our keeper to restore their lead.
We had dominated the game but two well executed pieces of technique had reminded us that possession counts for nothing without goals. We pressed harder and were able to end the half level at 2-2 after Paul Smith placed a low shot beyond the keeper’s reach into the bottom corner of the net, after good approach play by Ian Shoebridge.
We feared the second half would be harder with the wind against us but we were able to pin Welsh Tavern back and then have many goes at breaking through. They were reduced to the occasional break but without penetrating our box. In fact Steve Palmer’s hardest save in that half was to stop an own goal from a Steve Blanchard header. Steve must have been just rehearsing because with about twenty minutes left he got his head at the end of a cross from Paul Smith to give us a lead for the first time in the game. It looked like the Welsh Tavern keeper fumbled the ball, misjudging the flight of the ball in the breeze but it was no more than we deserved. Ten minutes later Paul Smith had a tap-in to make it 4-2, after Ian Shoebridge had done all the hard work and unselfishly squared the ball. And that was that – and we were left to walk back to the dressing with quite a spring in our step.
This was a good all-round performance against a team that matched us in the first half but faded in the second as we pressed for the win and had more running in our legs. At times we tried to walk the ball into the net but there was a lot of passing today and a good deal of space to pass into particularly down both flanks. This was one of the wider and truer pitches we have played on. The surface was firm but much better than last week. Mick Ingram came on at half time for Paul Bell, who himself returned for the last twenty minutes in place of Mark Perry. Mick played his part – and afterwards in the Welsh Tavern noticed some Farnborough badges on show – and wittily wondered whether he deserved a club badge for taking all that feedback from Patrice Mongelard for a misplaced pass.
Yes, we were playing a pub team today but certainly not in that sense of the word and they had some good technical players on show. After the game we re-assembled in the Welsh Tavern for a drink and some grub. Sadly, I thought the grub was a bit rare and left early, only to hear later that sausages, chips and samosas, were just waiting for me to leave before making their copious appearance, to Colin Brazier’s delight.
I was pleased to get back to Farnborough with a handsome win and with the three new match balls that Vic entrusted me with. I could not help notice the deep quarry that was alongside the pitch – good thing it was not behind the pitch. I, for one, would have put several balls in that place today with my shooting, from inappropriate distances. As it turned out I only hit some sort of poultry house behind the goal – surely that should have been in last week’s match report. But we had left behind a leaky bucket and the new magic water sprayer (not sure why we had both).
Man of the match was Rod Loe, in spite of some dribbling in inappropriate areas as I reminded him, for a solid and quietly effective display over the full 90 minutes – and he took the kit home, and on Mother’s Day too.
Man of the match: Rod Loe