Sunday 12th September 2010
By Patrice Mongelard with a second report by Roger French
Back to Earth with Captain Manchip in 0-1 Farnborough Defeat to Erith
Dear Reader – I may have hyped up last week’s game a tad, in the light of today’s match which ended our unbeaten run and marked a fallow home debut at Farrow Fields for the Farnborough Older Vets. And there is much to ponder after a frustrating and sobering experience, as I left the ground in philosophical mood.
Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Trevor Stewart, Chris Webb and Ian Coles in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Paul Bell and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield, Leo Maccioni and Toby Manchip up front – and had the luxury of three substitutes - Roger French, James Maidment and, eventually, Andy “Compo” Faulks.
Being a bit of an anorak I looked up last year’s corresponding match against Erith vets on 13 September 2009– then our second match of the season as today’s – and lo and behold, today, as last year, we had 5 players who did not play in our first match. The result was slightly different and better than last season’s 1-3 defeat, but there were some disturbing similarities. Last year I wrote “what was needed was more of a presence up front and in the box” and “we did not really create any clear cut chances”. Who says history does not repeat itself? I think we probably made history too, with the substitution of today’s captain - Toby Manchip at half-time.
The recent rains had certainly helped the pitch which looked not too bad, after Bunny, and bunnies, had worked on it in the summer. If anything, like most lawns in the area - it could do with a cut, but of course it was the same surface for both teams today.
With Erith playing in yellow we had an opportunity to play in our “new” away kit at home – and a maroon and black number was dredged out of the Farnborough vaults, sponsored by a business that was probably no longer viable. After today’s performance maybe that is not such a bad thing. To say we had about 75% of possession would not be an exaggeration – and to say we would not have scored a goal if we played for another day would be equally truthful.
Erith were superb. They were fit (as we saw from the post-match warm down), organised, patient and dogged. They defended in numbers, passed the ball well, took up excellent positions, used their better players to good effect, always seemed to have an outlet, particularly at the back where we never troubled the last defender or the keeper. The Erith keeper looked like a stand-in keeper but since we never tested him we’ll never know.
After the first twenty minutes we thought we would win this game given the amount of possession we had. But somehow we could never find the telling last pass, or the shot on target, or the cross that created real danger. Erith played on the break and made the most of the first corner they had midway into the half to score with an unopposed header in the six-yard box. They nearly added a second ten minutes later after an ill-advised pass from Patrice Mongelard was intercepted and the resulting one to one saw a shot go over the bar when a goal looked likely.
For our part we huffed and puffed; probed down the right and the left, had many throw-ins on the edge of the box, forced numerous corners, had several mostly under-hit shots from outside the box, even some from inside the box. As the half wore on we got over-anxious, and rushed things. One Toby Manchip airshot defied description.
At half time three substitutions were made as Roger French, James Maidment and Andy Faulks came on for Trevor Stewart, Paul Bell and Toby Manchip. These were not entirely successful substitutions but in keeping with the policy of the management to give everyone a decent run out (and in the hope of getting that in return).
James was playing his first match in six years and he will be the first to agree that it showed. By his own standards Andy will have been disappointed with his performance today, which was as much of a contribution from him as last week’s. It was reported later that his fiancée had witnessed some of the game – and she would not have seen him at his best, on a football pitch at least. We can only hope she is around to see him play better, in another game. Toby’s substitution, which would have come as a surprise to him, not least as he scored our solitary goal in last year’s match against Erith, was made after his captain’s rallying talk at half time. He was able to spend more time with his family, in particular young Oliver, a year old this week, and to dispense heavily disguised encouragement to his team mates from the side lines – before coming back on for Mehmet Bozyigit for the last quarter of an hour.
The second half was even more frustrating than the first and I’d rather not tell you more about it. Erith grew more confident as they realised the game was theirs to lose. They generated one or two moments of real danger as we repeated the first half’s, and last year’s, performance. It hurt more this time after the promising start we had made to the season last week.
Post match drinks and Shirley’s sandwiches were taken outside in the autumn sunshine, as art came to Farnborough today in the form of an exhibition of paintings by a local artist. There was not much art on the Vets pitch, which was a grim study in still life at times. Mick Gearing, refereed with his customary economy and subtlety. So understated was he in fact that his own grandson seems to not have registered that pops was a referee. Vic Farrow, of Farrow Fields fame, clucked over his new water bottles and fretted over missing corner flags, and exhibited his usual bonhomie. Shirley polished her new tea urn which made a cracking brew. Young Oliver Manchip, a year older, looked livelier than the old man, who is the proud owner of an eco-friendly roof, but could do with some shooting boots.
On the way home I could not help reflect on some football truths – possession means nothing without a goal; goals win matches etc. I was even reminded of the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre who said “In football everything is complicated by the presence of an opponent”. I could add to that “or the presence or absence of a team mate”. Discuss.
After philosophy this week – next week some ornithology perhaps, as we face The Buff. Play like we did today and we’ll be stuffed like dodos, now’s there’s a bird I know something about but that’s for another match report.
Man of the match today was Chris Webb.
It seems that Waldorf has misplaced his Prozac judging by the rather melancholy report submitted following our narrow defeat at the hands of Erith Vets yesterday. I blame Eastenders and the endless saga of Stacey and her two polar bears – one minute she is on the pills and the next she is off them with catastrophic results. Maybe a call to the number that the BBC offers after the programme will help.
At the beginning of the week we were a bit light on squad numbers but by Saturday I was encouraging players to give the game a miss following late updates via text. So it was that Steve B agreed that two games in a weekend with a dodgy foot was probably a bit too much and happily stood down to make way for the second return of Compo.
Sunday morning dawned true to forecast with bright warm sunshine as I set off for Farrow Fields with Sinisa’s Number One Fan Club (Isabelle & Thomas) in tow in an effort to earn some precious brownie points. With our “new” away strip dusted down and the portable goals wheeled into place we were ready to implement option four which rapidly became option five when Compo failed to arrive before kick-off.
With plenty of subs we lined up in blazing sunshine under the captainship of the Clown Prince as follows:
Gary Fentiman (GK)
Patrice “Waldorf” Mongelard (RB)
Chris Webb (CB)
Ian Coles (CB)
Trevor Stewart (LB)
Mehmet Bozyigit (RM)
Ian Shoebridge (CM)
Sinisa Gracanin (CM)
Paul Bell (LM)
Leo Maccioni (CF)
Toby Manchip (CF)
Subs: Roger French, James Maidment and eventually Andy “Compo” Faulks
A bit of a line-up change compared to last week with four players in and two subs who had not been involved in our opening fixture. We continued where we left off last week with a high tempo passing game but could not produce an end product. Erith were pinned back in their own half for long stretches but their keeper did not have to produce one save.
Chris Webb at the centre of our defence had things under control but it was Erith who took the lead midway through the half virtually from their first attack having won a corner and scored rather too easily with an unmarked back post header.
The good thing is we didn’t crumble and wave after wave of Farnborough attacks continued but broke down before an attempt on goal could be made.
Half-time came with Captain Clown in full flow only to be cut short with the news that he was being replaced along with Trev and Paul to allow all players a fair share of the game. Trev was put in charge of The Fan Club and Paul ran the line while Captain Clown skulked on the sidelines.
The second half brought more of the same with Erith soaking up the pressure and hitting us on the break and almost extending their lead on a couple of occasions but luckily Gary was on hand to prevent a further imbalance.
A disagreement on the sidelines between Isabelle and Thomas resulted in tears and an unnecessary distraction for left back Statler. Manchip stood by unmoved until concerned Chris W encouraged him to sort it out. Reluctantly the Clown Prince stepped in and peace resumed while Manchip was engaged in an in depth conversation with young Thomas – much more entertaining that watching us struggle to break down a resilient Erith apparently.
Further substitutions were made for the last 15 minutes to see if we could rescue something from the game with Manchip and Paul Bell coming on for Mehmet and the weary James but to no avail. We still could not find that killer touch and the game ended in our first defeat of the season.
All in all a disappointing result but one I am sure we can build on. A tough game next week against those familiar feathered types but we should be able to look forward to the main pitch and a better playing surface.
The MOM votes saw four players in the frame but the clear winner was Chris Webb with a masterful performance at the back for his first game of the new season.
Onwards and upwards.
Man of the match: Chris Webb