Sunday 11th April 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Stroll for Albany Park as Hospitable Older Farnborough Vets Slump to 8-3 Defeat
Football is a game of two halves they say. Well not in this shorter than usual match report for, having been urged to accentuate the positive as I left the clubhouse in a pensive and morose mood, I have decided to air-brush the first half out of Farnborough history and leave no record of it for future generations to laugh at our expense. At 5-0 down at half time, I confess the ineptitude of our performance would probably have defied description anyway.
For the statisticians among us Farnborough lined up with Steve Palmer in goal; Steve Blanchard, Nick Kinnear, Rod Loe and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mark Perry and newcomer Ian McCaw in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy Faulks in front. Roger French ran the line in the first half – getting furiouser by the minute, and Mick Ingram turned up as our second sub midway through that half. Both Roger and Mick came on at half time and could I suppose claim that they were undefeated today.
Interestingly seven of our thirteen played in the 3-3 draw against Albany Park on 4 October and we were leading 3-1 with ten minutes to go in that game. So we were probably not expecting the very different Albany Park proposition we got today – I would venture a guess that they had probably no more than 3 players from that October game.
So when the second half kicked off with two new full backs in Roger and Mick having come on – we were dreading the worst and could not bring ourselves to utter the often heard words “it’s only 0-0” – after all it could have been 8 or 9 nil to Albany Park if they had taken all the chances that fell to them in that half. Dark humour and bright sunshine do not really mix I find. Suddenly though we found that we were holding our own and began to string some passes together and start to deny Albany Park room. They had complained before the game that their dressing room was on the bijou side but I heard no complaint about the amount of room we gave them in the first half all over the pitch and particularly in our six-yard box.
To cut a long story short we drew the second half as we, like Albany Park, scored three goals. And what goals we scored: there was a superb brace from Paul Smith with two wonderfully executed and well placed powerful shots from distance. Sinisa Gracanin got our third when he burst through midfield after a couple of one-twos, and got his reward for what was at times a very frustrating and lonely battle against an Albany Park midfield quarter that was the best we have faced this season for finesse, skill, hunger, balance, running and shooting power. And their two forwards could play a bit too. Ian McCaw came close to adding a fourth for us with a clever lob that nearly beat the not very tall (and not very busy) Albany Park keeper. Surely Ian went home wondering what sort of outfit he had just joined. Andy Faulks had a quiet game today up front, not a patch on his recent performances, but I am sure he will regain his effectiveness soon. We even had a bit of luck in that second half as an angled clearance was placed on the bar by Mick Ingram and Steve Blanchard played a one-two with the post before clearing the ball.
Men of the match were Steve Palmer for keeping the Albany Park score to single figures with some fantastic point blank saves that deserved much better, and Paul Smith for giving us some pride back with two great strikes.
Roger French would have had two man-of-the-match votes if Isabelle and Thomas French had turned up today to watch Papa but as Roger would no doubt agree as a responsible parent some things are best not seen by those below the age of consent – like our first half performance.
Albany Park did not stay for drinks and sandwiches – having reasoned perhaps that we had exhausted our hospitality on the pitch today. Pity - as Shirley laid on her usual impressive spread (with extra finely sliced white onions). Mick Gearing did his usual sterling job with the whistle, in what must have been a painful experience for the old Farnborough campaigner – I think he took pity on me by not awarding what seemed like a good penalty to Albany Park in the first half – for once I was happy with his tantric refereeing. Thanks are due also to our groundsman Keith Beston who was glimpsed pitchside, and will have no doubt noted how well the pitch played today (with a hint that the time had come to switch to mouldeds – doing so when the clocks go forward seems like a good rule of thumb I find). I must admit though that at half time it crossed my mind that a waterlogged pitch today might not have been a bad thing after all, but that heretical thought quickly drained away as a game is better than no game no matter what the score.
After the 6-2 drubbing by Orpington on 28 March and today’s mauling a worrying pattern seems to be developing whereby we start playing only at half-time and several goals in arrears, so it will very welcome if we can reverse this next week.
Man of the match: Steve Palmer and Paul Smith