Sunday 3rd October 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
“Statler & Waldorf double not enough as Farnborough Senior Vets suffer narrow 3-2 defeat to Albany Park”
After the inevitable changes from one week to the next, and the midweek uncertainties as Roger French leaves no stone unturned to get a side out we made our way to the Albany Park pitch – home of Cray Wanderers in Sidcup Hill, which a sign in the car park proclaimed to be the second oldest football team in the world. The ground certainly has a faded grandeur about it but the pitch was very good, a tad on the lush side, but with all the rain that had fallen and was continuing to fall this was a very good surface to play on.
Farnborough were out on the pitch very early in the mist or so it seemed as Albany Park took ages to trickle out – perhaps in a ploy to delay the start while they waited for players. It gave us time to take in the surroundings and feel the aura of the place as ponies grazed the scrub land behind the goals (a timeless scene from the days when the team was founded before the motor car, I thought).
When the game eventually started Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice (Waldorf) Mongelard, Ian Coles, Nick Kinnear and Danny Winter in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Mark Perry, Chris Webb and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; Ian Shoebridge and Roger (Statler) French in attack. Trevor Stewart was our twelfth man. There would have been a thirteenth, in the form of Chris Bourlet – but he was conscripted to enforce the laws of the game – an occupational hazard for him I suppose, but it was fortunate he appeared for the first time this season as Albany Park were not able, as home team, to provide a referee. They did though acquire substitutes as the game progressed and I could not help noticing how good their subs were. In the end Chris had an easy game to referee played in excellent spirit, in spite of the real competitive edge.
The early exchanges confirmed that Albany Park were a good passing side with three or four ball players in strategic positions that needed watching. Our own passing game was in evidence and there had been no serious goalmouth action when Albany Park got their first goal 15 minutes into the game. Their dangerous left winger cut inside our full back and hit a powerful low shot across the goal which evaded Gary at full stretch and rebounded off the inside of the post to travel to the opposite corner and nestle in the net.
We reacted very well and pushed them back. We forced several corners and engineered some neat moves, particularly down the sides that faltered at the final ball mainly due to a lack of movement in the box. We had several shots from long to medium range that disturbed the ponies. Ian Shoebridge flashed a ball at full stretch past the post from the edge of the six-yard box. On the whole the two defences had the upper hand. Albany Park put on one of their subs who promptly crashed a header against the post. Danny Winter came off midway through the half injured and Trevor Stewart slotted in at left back while Nick Kinnear switched to the right. Our two wide midfielders, Mark Perry and Mehmet Bozyigit, swapped wings. All these changes checked our momentum, and Albany Park rallied to finish the half strongly. Just when we were looking forward to half-time Albany Park got their second, and it was an equally classy finish as Gary was lobbed from the edge of the box, having been tempted slightly off his line by some hesitancy in the defence to clear a ball.
Unlike Albany we had no subs to bring on at half time (and the water bottles seemed to have been carried empty to the well-decorated stands) but the oranges were nice as Ian Coles’ two supporters will confirm. However, in a mildly ironic moment, Albany Park asked to hurry up and curtail our half-time rallying talk, in view of the late start.
We realised quickly that the second sub from Albany Park was a very good and lively forward we had come across before who was going to take some watching. We held our own, Chris Webb and Sinisa Gracanin were unyielding in the middle, we anticipated and covered well at the back, Mark Perry restored to the left was a usually unmarked outlet and gradually we began to take heart and feel that even at 2-0 down we were not out of it and deserved something. Then we got our reward, 15 minutes into the second half when Roger French scored.
There are two ways of looking at Roger’s goal. The prelude was the same: A glancing header from Chris Webb was picked up by Ian Shoebridge on the right, who cut in, beat two defenders and advanced to the edge of the box before playing a through ball which bisected the Albany defence.
A: Roger had somehow anticipated the pass, moved smoothly inside his marker, cushioned the ball on his left instep and moved it to his right with an instinctive touch and strode forward to strike the ball unerringly with his right foot, low into the corner against the bottom of the post and into the net – or .
B: Roger showed surprising movement in the box, mis-controlled the ball, put it on his weaker right foot and with a scruffy toe-poke was lucky to hit the inside of the post and score.
You decide which version is closer to reality. I know which one I favour. But there is no denying the importance of that goal and its timing. We now pressed on looking for the equaliser. Gary made a great point blank save to keep us in it and we began to push Albany Park back. Then with 10 minutes left – disaster struck, or so it felt given the intensity and desire that we were playing with. Nick Kinnear chased down a through ball in the corner, got in front of their forward, was in total control of the situation, shielded the ball for a moment, paused, cogitated and then decided to attempt an ill-advised back heel in an inappropriate area. The ball was back in Albany Park possession, quickly transferred to the dangerous left winger who once again used his right foot to curl a delightful ball inside the far post beyond Gary’s despairing dive. We had conceded three quality goals, but then managed to score perhaps the best of the lot, even if I say so myself.
The last goal was worth waiting for. Trevor Stewart had advanced far forward, retrieved a clearance by the corner flag, rolled the ball back to Chris Webb, who dummied it cleverly (have you noticed how dummies are invariably clever in this game) to Patrice Mongelard who controlled the ball, took two steps forward and from 27.5 yards out, lashed the ball into the top corner. There was no time to re-start the game. Some mischief makers claim that Chris Bourlet blew the final whistle simultaneously; others say that the whistling they heard was the sound of the ball entering the goal’s atmosphere. It ended the game on a very positive note for Farnborough, but added to the disappointment of not getting a draw in a game where we had 60-65% of possession.
Man of the match today, with over half the votes cast, was Patrice Mongelard.
Man of the match: Patrice Mongelard