Sunday 18th April 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Old Vets Restore their Spirits with Glorious 2-1 Defeat to Cudham
Late on Friday we had the unwelcome news that our scheduled opponents for today at home had pulled out and we were left with an unexpected, and rather daunting fixture away against Cudham Vets. There is a bit of history between Farnborough and Cudham you see. We have suffered some heavy defeats against them in the recent past – and what with our current form, we thought we would do well to keep the score to single figures.
We had a number of “Cudham virgins” in our line-up and like lambs, they must have wondered if there was a better way of spending such a splendid spring morning, than waiting for the chop. Farnborough lined up with Steve Palmer in goal; Nick Kinnear, Rod Loe, Patrice Mongelard and Ian Coles in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mark Perry and Ian McCaw in midfield; Toby Manchip and Andy Faulks up front. Roger French, Mick Ingram and Chris Bourlet were the subs – and all came on at half time.
We had taken the precaution of grabbing a spare kit from the club house – as we rightly surmised that Andy Faulks might be late arriving to his local ground.
Friends spoke of a very late Saturday night spent searching for a bird with a Play Station, and a relaxed attitude to funny business (and I do not mean washing the Farnborough kit as his mum did that, and folded things up very nicely).
The pitch was a pleasant surprise, the lush grass taking away the hardness that can cause blisters at this time of year. Cudham were not a surprise – keeping to their tradition of hard, robust, muscular, direct football, playing to their aerial strengths and physical presence all over the pitch. Perhaps to our surprise and a little bit of luck, we weathered the first 15 minutes or so and then had the temerity to score first. Toby Manchip – a handful for Cudham throughout the game – played a delicate through ball that bisected the defence and put Andy Faulks through to beat the keeper. From where I was I have to admit there was more than hint of offside, but as we were to find out later when the referee gives a goal it stays given.
Oh why did you have to go and do this? - as one would say to a boy poking a wasps' nest. The Cudham riposte was swift and typical - with the nippy forward setting up a bullet header from six yards for Cudham to equalise. We braced ourselves for more Cudham goals and they had more chances but we held out until half time, and caused problems of our own – with Patrice Mongelard hitting 60-70 yard goal kicks down the flanks that Toby Manchip and Andy Faulks were willing to get on the end of. We had as many corners as they did in that half and when it ended our mood was very good (relieved like that little boy that the wasps had not stung him).
The second half was as tough as the first one, if not tougher. Cudham had more chances than we did but they also missed more than we did. 10 minutes or so into the half Cudham were awarded a penalty which came from a shoulder to shoulder encounter in the box between Patrice Mongelard and the nippy Cudham forward who went down like a sack of maris pipers. The penalty was missed. More Cudham misses were to follow – a notable one when their player put the ball over an empty net from 10 yards. Deep Cudham crosses into the box continued and it seemed like a matter of time before we would let one in – but we held firm. There were a few hairy moments down the flank where Rod Loe was running the line, but as the referee’s watch ticked we scented a memorable draw. We even had a couple of chances from free kicks and a through ball that saw a good low shot from Andy Faulks flash past the post.
Then with less than five minutes to go something happened which I suppose adds to the history of matches between our two sides. Our keeper Steve Palmer raced off his line to clear a long ball, came into contact with the Cudham forward who went to ground on the edge of the box – a little theatrically perhaps. Having put the ball into touch I was expecting a throw in to Cudham but it appears the referee, who looked young and inexperienced and who until then had had a blemish-free game (I even forgave him the penalty award), inexplicably gave a free kick to Cudham. Some say that Rod Loe had flagged for the free kick. Others that the referee was persuaded by the impression made by the Cudham forward showing a bit of bruised thigh.
Anyway the free kick was taken, the Cudham forward who had earned it sauntered into the box and made his contribution to the goal that followed. I cannot be sure if it was his hand that controlled the ball for one of his team mates to blast it into the net from 3 yards out after Steve Palmer had made a fantastic point blank save. In spite of vigorous protests the referee stood by his decision, having given the goal. The red mist descended upon Roger French who soon after vaporised from our left back position into the Cudham box on the right and came into contact with arguably the one Cudham player whose pint you would not want to spill – he had exchanged pleasantries with at least two of our players and in one case looked like he wanted to shake them warmly by the throat. The game ended with Roger still horizontal – and he was sportingly attended to and helped up by one Cudham player who had himself twice taken Manchip roughly from behind.
The game ended on a sour note as words were said about not playing that lot again – the rather primitive changing rooms did not help, even though to their credit one or two of their players were making conciliatory noises (unlike one or two of their fans).
The philosophical question I was left to ponder back in the Farnborough clubhouse where we had all repaired to lick our wounds (partly because the Cudham clubhouse was out of bounds) was this one – would a Farnborough player have owned up to the handball and invited the referee to re-consider, if the situation had been reversed? After all, Thierry Henry did not against the Irish, and I suppose to the Cudham player in question - today’s game was as important as that one in Paris. I suppose the Farnborough answer is probably yes, but against another club.
Men of the match today were Toby Manchip and Chris Webb: Toby for a spirited performance, one not without punishment, which probably ended his fancy about a transfer to Cudham (with young Toby Manchip thrown in as a Buy-One-Get–One-Free offer that might appeal to someone like Harry Redknapp); and (as a happy Spurs fan) for lifting the mood of the team even before the game had started – Chris for a combative and energetic performance that matched the physicality of the Cudham play as he supported both attack and defence in good measure.
In fact there was a double figure score for a Farnborough vets team today – as the Young Vets put 11 past Avery Hill without reply. Still, maybe the Young Vets will have their glorious moment for this season – against Cudham Vets next week. For us we are to have a fourth attempt to knock the Buff off their perch.
Man of the match: Toby Manchip and Chris Webb