Sunday 24th October 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Lose Sparkle against Diamond with 4-3 Defeat, Despite 3-0 Half-time Lead
Yes - for the disbelieving readers among you that was how this game turned out; but there is an even more cruel twist – the Diamond winner with 5 minutes to go was scored by one of our players Paul Bell, a ringer in a Diamond shirt. (Copyright: Colin Brazier Puns Ltd).
Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mehmet Bozyigit and Trevor Stewart in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Brazier, Ian Shoebridge and Paul Bell in midfield; Andy Faulks and Eric Johnson up front. Roger French was our twelfth man. It was good to see Andy on time for the start of the game – he declared himself in good shape after having had only a small Indian last night. I think he meant that he did not order any naan bread or onion bhajis. The other point to note about our line-up was the presence of Eric Johnson – a US businessman.
We had a thirteenth man in Toby Manchip but he ended up playing for Diamond as we are sporting opponents who lend our players to the opposition when they are short – as Diamond had only ten geezers, including an under-age vet. Roger French later admitted that his first instinct had been to play for Diamond himself – but then changed his mind partly because this was his 150th game for Farnborough. Well - he’ll have plenty to remember from today although he will probably wish he could forget our second half, or had trusted his instincts.
We were surprised by how difficult it was for us to get into a rhythm in the first quarter of an hour after our recent performances. Diamond were quicker out of the blocks, sharper and revealed some key strengths particularly on the left where their two best players operated. We certainly had to work hard to maintain any possession and penetration was hard. A neutral observer would have felt that Farnborough took the lead against the run of play – as Andy Faulks was quick to tuck the ball home after the keeper had failed to hold on to an Ian Shoebridge shot from the edge of the box.
Diamond had their moments – mainly long range shots that Gary had little difficulty claiming. We even coped well with the two or three corners which Diamond earned. I recall only one moment of danger when Toby Manchip climbed above Ian Shoebridge in the six yard box to get to the end of a cross but produced an ineffective header. Our second goal came on the half hour when Paul Bell surprised everyone – opponents and team mates – with a shot of no small technical merit to put the ball into the bottom corner of the net past the Diamond keeper who for once was motionless. Five minutes later – following a 30-yard free-kick from Patrice Mongelard which the keeper saved at the expense of a corner – Andy Faulks produced a cross which Eric Johnson converted into a goal with a smart header from close range.
At half time we felt confident, and although the score was probably flattering, we had neutralised Diamond and Gary Fentiman had had relatively little to do. So what changed – I hear you ask, apart from Roger French coming on for Trevor Stewart (and going upfront – with Eric Johnson dropping into midfield and Colin Brazier going at left back). I have been mulling this over – mindful of not being too negative, or harsh on ourselves. These changes did take some energy out of our game but credit must be given to the resolve that Diamond showed. It helped that they scored 5 minutes into the half – from a left-wing cross that was volleyed instantly into the ground and beyond Gary Fentiman by their nippy under-age vet. This was an ominous sign as we were to struggle again to cope with the cross field ball from the left.
The next twenty minutes were difficult: Diamond were emboldened, we huffed and puffed but failed to produce a telling final ball, passes went astray, shots were poor and Diamond began to put more pressure on the defence. The second Diamond goal came from the left again as poor marking from a corner allowed their most dangerous player with a very good left foot to put in a low diagonal ball that somehow eluded several defenders, Gary Fentiman and Trevor Stewart on the goal line. By then Trevor had come back on. Toby Manchip, after an inconsequential 70 minutes or so, had departed and Paul Bell had come back on and uneasily swapped his Farnborough shirt with Toby for a Diamond one. In term of its effect on the game this was Toby’s most telling move.
Even at 3-2 up we had chances – there was a poor header from an unmarked Ian Shoebridge in the six yard box. Andy Faulks had a one to one that was saved very well by the Diamond keeper who was rallying his teammates even though he loudly called them onanists after a Farnborough chance went begging. Editor's note: Look it up - I had to!
At the other end Gary Fentiman produced a double save of great quality to keep us ahead. But inevitably the diamond drill got through, so to speak, as another left foot cross was volleyed into our net to produce a gem of a deserved equaliser.
Worse was to come as we made a shambles of defending a corner and the bell tolled for Farnborough, as Paul Bell scored the 4th Diamond goal. Soon after Paul was through on the Farnborough goal and we’ll never know if he scuffed his shot or was overcome by remorse. The rest of the Farnborough team were overcome by embarrassment and frustration.
This game was yet another reminder of how much we miss Paul Smith up front. I was in fact asked about him by a Diamond player in the showers. Paul scored many goals against Diamond in past seasons – 11 goals in the last six games he played against them. We have not replaced him, even if we average over 3 goals a game and already have 15 different players on the score sheet.
After the game we missed our home comforts again – no clubhouse and no food. This was our 5th consecutive away game and we have one more away game before we return to Farrow Fields on 7 November. A number of us made our way to the Bull's Head public house in Chislehurst for our post match analysis. I suppose there was some symmetry in this – we had spent the game producing a lot of what comes out of the other end of a bull.
Finally, I leave you with the observation that what happens at big clubs also happens at Farnborough. This week for example we have had an American businessman come to look at the cows in Farrow Fields, to see if they can produce stuff good enough for Rafa’s pinta. But instead he will have seen a lot of fertiliser produced, which probably means that American ownership of Farnborough is not imminent. And after today’s performance I can see a few players thinking the Senior Vets lack ambition and holding out on new contracts, or wanting transfers.
We’ll have to bounce back quickly from this but at the time of writing it looks like we might not have a game on 31 October because ex-Farnborough man Richard Cawker has let us down. Pity - as we had other teams wanting to play us, and it is plain daft to have a free Sunday in October when the pitches are in such good condition.
Farnborough Man of the Match today was Gary Fentiman. The Diamond player of the match should be Paul Bell.
(Editor: Colin Brazier)
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman