Sunday 9th January 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Stars Twinkle on Astral Turf in 4-3 Win against Diamond
A little bit of Farnborough history was made today. It was not that this match yielded seven goals, as the previous match between these two sides this season – but this time with Farnborough on top. No, it was that this fixture was played on Astro Turf. The Senior Vets co-manager Roger French, who knows a thing or two about insurance – surmised, rightly, that the risk of this game not being played at hydrophilic Farrow Fields, was too great after the Orpington monsoon season started this week.
Not many people know this but Astro Turf was invented in 1965, and in 1999 Real Madrid became the first European football club to purchase an Astro Turf system for their training pitches. And in 2011 Farnborough Senior Vets……
And so it came to pass that Farnborough Senior Vets found themselves, back at school, in the vast boys changing rooms of the Priory School, a specialist sports college, in the London borough of Bromley, in Tintagel Road, BR5 4LG. There was a lot of PE kit lying about that would be in the lost property office on Monday.
In the bright low winter sunshine, against a blue sky, and in a crisp breeze, Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Toby Manchip and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit, Chris Webb, Ian Shoebridge and Jerry Cogotti in midfield; John Tallis and Andy Faulks up front. At the back of the class in red shorts, were Roger French, Paul Bell and Trevor Stewart – waiting for their name to be called.
The game started a little slowly as both sides had to come to terms with the unfamiliar surface, to take more care with their passing, to judge the bounce and pace of the ball in the glare reflecting off the “pitch”, and to adjust to their formations. For our part we were getting used to having a new target man up front in the form of tall Tallis. Toby Manchip was finding out what happens at right back – and was the first to admit that it was not in his astral chart to play at right back, versatile though he is.
The first 10 minutes or so were evenly contested but with no clear chances being created. Diamond scored first, from a corner that we would not have conceded on grass. We failed to clear the incoming corner and it was headed into the goal just where a right back would normally be standing. 1-0 to Diamond.
This was a wake-up call and we began to string passes together, and in particular to get to the end of flicks and headers that John Tallis kept winning for us. The timing of our movement also improved as we sought out gaps in the Diamond defence. Our equaliser was a bit of a gem - John Tallis threaded a through ball to Mehmet Bozyigit, who got behind the Diamond defence, and squared the ball across goal for Ian Shoebridge to tuck away neatly. 1-1.
It seemed only a matter of time before we would edge ahead and it was doubly surprising when Diamond got their noses in front again. A cross from the Diamond left wing was shinned high towards goal from just outside the box. As the ball dropped towards the top corner we were fully expecting Gary Fentiman to reach up for it, but the ball seemed to clip the bar on its way down, and the subtle change of pace direction, in the blinding sun in Gary’s eyes, was enough to cause the ball to slip through his outstretched gloves into the net. 2-1 to Diamond. Gary’s disappointment was great but redemption would come soon.
Once again we had to polish our performance and we replied with incision, to score twice in quick succession with two clinical moves. First Ian Shoebridge was played in by Andy Faulks, and advanced on the goal. His shot was parried by the Diamond keeper but had enough momentum to cross the line. 2-2. Then Patrice Mongelard swung a pass from the left into the heart of the Diamond defence, which Andy Faulks had somehow anticipated, controlled and carried into the box to beat the Diamond keeper from close range. 3-2 to Farnborough. In between those two goals we had a moment of (sadly now rare) sportsmanship when the Diamond players put the ball out for a corner after the referee, blinded by the sun perhaps, failed to award Farnborough a (second successive) corner.
John Tallis, Toby Manchip and Patrice Mongelard came off at half time, to make way for Paul Bell, Trevor Stewart and Roger French. The plan was to bring all three players back but management wires got crossed, and the second half team was in the end unchanged. Toby Manchip, though, put in an equally effective performance as linesman, in that second half.
As is often the case the opposition started the second half better than we did and exerted great pressure. This said, five minutes after the restart, Chris Webb played a 24-carat pass to unlock the Diamond defence and Andy Faulks rolled the ball inches past the Diamond goal. The cushion of another Farnborough goal was sorely missed as Diamond equalised some 10 minutes into the half, when their nippy forward picked his way through the Farnborough “Easter Island” defence to lash the ball against the bottom of a post into the net. 3-3.
We then had to weather some difficult moments, particularly stemming from the right of our defence, and were reduced to play on the break. Gary Fentiman pulled off a string of great saves from corners, close range and long range shots which gave the team a lot of heart and we began to create some dangerous moments at the other end, especially from the adventurous Mehmet Bozyigit on the right. One overlapping move saw him square the ball back to Ian Shoebridge who hit the crossbar from 15 yards out. Five minutes later though after yet another right-wing move, the ball was collected on the edge of the box by the stealthy Andy Faulks (who seemed the most comfortable Farnborough player on this surface) and guided into the Diamond net. 4-3 to Farnborough.
There was time for Andy Faulks to shoot high over the fence from a decent chance and for Paul Bell to cause a frisson in the right penalty box this time, as he turned to shoot low on target. In the end this was a deserved win – to reverse the self-inflicted defeat by the same score which we suffered against this team in the autumn. We remain unbeaten in 2011.
Men of the match – two sparklers - Ian Shoebridge and Gary Fentiman
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge and Gary Fentiman