Sunday 7th November 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Nose in Front of Baltic Exchange with First Clean Sheet of Season in 1-0 Win
It has taken us 9 games to register our first clean sheet of the season, and today we returned to winning ways after waiting two weeks to put things right after our last match.
Farnborough lined up with Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and Chris Webb in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, Mark Perry and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; Andy Faulks and Leo Maccioni up front. Roger French, Paul Bell and Trevor Stewart stood ready to exchange places at half time.
We were expecting a close encounter based on the results of our matches for the last five seasons against Baltic and today’s result bears this out although a second goal would not have flattered us. In the end it did not matter that we did not get the insurance of a second goal but we almost lost our composure a couple of times in the second half when Baltic threatened.
We settled very quickly in our now usual rhythm of 5 yard passes – even the referee Mick Gearing noted how much our passing game had come on since he stopped playing for us. He even accused me, in a nice way, of having changed my game but we now play a more collective game. I am not sure we have mastered the art of patience yet as we imposed ourselves clearly on Baltic and put their goal under enormous pressure. Their mobile and youthful looking keeper caught the eye as he got in the way of a string of crosses and shots in front of a packed defence where the proverbial team bus had been parked. They certainly managed to frustrate us as we probed wide and deep, forcing several corners.
It took Baltic a good 20 minutes to force anything resembling a save from Toby Manchip. The long period of inactivity may have dulled Toby’s sharpness as he came out to claim a cross but allowed the ball to roll off his nipples and almost into the path of a surprised Baltic forward. Soon after he provided a bit more excitement by sticking out a hand and changing the direction of a Baltic shot that was heading for the corner flag. But on the whole the defence was on top and Toby’s distribution and coming off his line ceased to be a cause for concern.
Back down at the other end we were made to wait for our breakthrough. It came about 25 minutes into the game when the keeper surprisingly failed to hold on to a Mehmet Bozyigit corner and the ball fell invitingly for Ian Shoebridge to show composure and round a defender before shooting the ball high into the net from 3 yards out. For the rest of the half we kept Baltic bottled up in their area but failed to add to the score despite numerous attempts. A missed header from 3 yards out from Leo Maccioni stands out in the memory.
At half time the three substitutes all came on with Roger French and Paul Bell forming a new axis on the left and Chris Webb pushing up in midfield with Patrice Mongelard moving to the centre of defence and Trevor Stewart moving to right back to receive plenty of feedback from Patrice Mongelard. Paul worked hard to put right his big mistake of two weeks ago and Roger put himself about in the Baltic box in usual fashion. It is fair to say we lost a little bit of momentum but the direction of travel remained the same, although Baltic seemed more able to break down our flanks. Chris Webb did a great job helping the defence out and we were having to be patient and learn to defend a 1-0 lead.
We weathered the first twenty five minutes of the half quite well before bringing back on the three who had been replaced made way at half time (as Mehmet Bozyigit, Andy Faulks and Stephen Blanchard made way for the last twenty minutes). We continued to enjoy 75% of the possession and to force corners but Baltic could pose a threat at set pieces as we gave away a few free kicks around the box. From one such free kick Toby Manchip took one for, and from, the team as Ian Coles got his head to a cross which skimmed off his head to smack Toby Manchip full on the nose. Toby was dazed for a bit (do not ask me how I could tell) but had begun to smell a clean sheet and he was to come off his line to make a smart save at the foot of a Baltic forward soon after. This was Toby’s first clean sheet since the age of 5 as he was to tell us proudly later and that’s including the back garden. And so we savoured our first clean sheet of the season, and our sixth win out of nine games.
At this rate there will be no calls for taxis for the management team of French and Mongelard (unlike for Mr Maicon at White Hart Lane during the week) – whose success is beginning to stand out like a priest on a mountain of sugar. The secret is the appliance of science – as Roger French applies powerful computer programs during the week to analyse our performances. This week he came up with the figures of 53-44-33 which he claims is an ideal set of figures for the Senior Vets. Entre nous I think these are also figures for Ann Widdecombe (allegedly) and I understand that Roger’s frantic voting all last night has borne fruit.
After struggling to get the nets down, with the Farnborough vintage step ladder locked away, some of us were glad to return to the dressing room to enjoy our home comforts – including a cup of tea that was very welcome as the air had begun to freshen. Shirley put on a most impressive spread with honey-glazed free-range and organic chicken legs, crusty rolls with breaded ham, crusty rolls with mature Somerset cheddar; Atlantic prawn and wild salmon sandwiches on brown and white bread, rare-breed cocktail sausages and gourmet mini sausage rolls.
Farnborough Man of the Match today was Chris Webb for no small part in shutting Baltic out.
Man of the match: Chris Webb