Sunday 16th January 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Come from Behind to Overcome Stiff Opposition in 3-2 Win
For a second consecutive Sunday Farnborough Senior Vets defied the rain gods, with the goodwill of our opponents, to play a football match – again on astro turf, but this time on the Darrick Wood school pitch – personally tested by the management team during the week – and found to be a softer surface. But there was nothing limp about today’s game which was a robust, well-contested affair, with the outcome uncertain right until the end.
Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Steve Blanchard, Chris Webb, Robin Lipscomb, and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit, Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin and John Tallis in midfield; Andy Faulks and Leo Maccioni up front. Roger French, George Kleanthous and Mark Perry were the ball boys.
The vigour and solidity of Inter Vyagra took us by surprise, quickly knocking out the small amount of complacency we took into this game. Once again the surface took some getting used to, and the passing had to be crisp, slightly under-hit, and accurate. The slightly narrower than regulation pitch compressed the play, and attempts to play on the flanks often ended in throw-ins. In spite of all this both sides knew their business and set about to establish an early advantage. Farnborough had more foreplay while Inter Vyagra were more direct.
The first goal, to Farnborough, was not unexpected – as Mehmet Bozyigit broke through on the right and lifted a cross onto Leo Maccioni’s forehead in the six-yard box, for him to beat the keeper almost at point-blank range. What was unexpected was how quickly Inter Vyagra equalised. Patrice Mongelard played a back pass to Chris Webb, and a combination of the pace on the ball, Chris’s distance from it, and an onrushing big unit of a forward who shot surprisingly early from the edge of the box, made it 1-1.
This shook us more than it stirred us and for ten minutes or so we were uncertain and struggled to retain our composure and territorial advantage. Patrice Mongelard had to produce a sliding tackle (at the cost of a badly grazed left knee) to block a powerful shot from a lively Inter Vyagra forward who was airborne for a bit. The rest of the half was ours in terms of possession as we fashioned a number of half chances – the best falling to Leo Maccioni in the six yard box from a delightful cross from the left, this time by Mehmet Bozyigit. We also forced corners and one of these saw a half chance headed over by Chris Webb from Ian Shoebridge’s cross. The compact defence erected by Inter Vyagra proved difficult to breach and whilst we dominated the play, the half time whistle came with the score at 1-1.
Roger French, Mark Perry and George Kleanthous came on for John Tallis, Robin Lipscomb and Ian Shoebridge – to start the second half.
A growing sense that this might not be our day after all was heightened when Inter Vyagra took the lead – exploiting a little hesitancy at the back as Gary Fentiman was lured to the edge of his box and we lost control of the ball which was rolled into an empty net. Five minutes later Gary produced the save of the match – a one-handed point blank save, which proved a turning point. From then onwards with about half an hour to play, we threw the kitchen sink at the bus parked in front of the Inter Vyagra goal. Farnborough chances began to come - and be missed with regularity. The delivery from our set pieces was very good, from corners, and two floated free kicks from Patrice Mongelard, and led to dangerous moments in the Inter Vyagra box.
With 25 minutes left – John Tallis, Ian Shoebridge and Robin Lipscomb resumed the fray, as Mehmet Bozigit, Steve Blanchard and Andy Faulks paused. Robin proceeded to put in a muscular display at right back, with Patrice Mongelard pushing up into the right side of midfield to help the forward momentum now in our favour. John Tallis stabilised the back as we began pushing forward, and Ian Shoebridge’s eager and intelligent running, and Roger French’s crosses from the left, began to worry Inter Vyagra.
Eventually the pressure told with 15 minutes left – Mark Perry made a rare foray into the Inter Vyagra box and from this move the ball found its way to Sinisa Gracanin to beat the Inter Vyagra keeper – with a fierce low shot. 2-2. With ten minutes left Andy Faulks returned to replace Leo Maccioni – and by then the Farnborough pressure was relentless - and the question in our minds was whether this would be our first draw of the season.
The answer, five minutes from the end, came like a thunderbolt – as the ball was headed out of a packed Inter Vyagra box into the zone that lies 35 yards out – dead centre of the pitch, and into which rushed Chris Webb out of our defence – to leather the ball through the crowded scene, over the keeper’s despairing hands into the roof of the net. What a climax.
And there nearly was another Farnborough goal – as Patrice Mongelard beat the offside trap to follow a deft pass from Robin Lipscomb into the box. Dear reader – as I penetrated the six yard box, I was overcome by the excitement, and shot wide, prematurely. What an anti-climax.
Given the proximity of our home ground to today’s pitch, several of us returned to our clubhouse – after ascertaining that Darrick Wood school has not yet mastered the art of recycling rain water for the showers.
From the clubhouse we witnessed the rather interesting scenes of a “tasty” cup game involving our Sunday side, on our big pitch being abandoned with three minutes of extra time left. I could not help thinking, after the initial frisson wondering if things were about to kick off – that you would not get this sort of thing with the Vets.
A word of thanks to the referee Mick Gearing, his first time on astro turf, refereeing that is, who had a game of few fouls to manage – such was the spirit in which it was played, competitive but fair – and who did well to add time for the many instances we had to retrieve the ball behind fences and razor wire. We lost a pair of balls in that game, to add to the cost of Farrow Fields cancellations.
A word of thanks too – for Shirley who laid on a superb spread – not a crumb was left as cheese rolls, ham rolls, prawn and brown bread sandwiches, cocktail sausages, mini sausage rolls and crisps all went. It was also one of those rare occasions when the Branston pickle was released by Vic Farrow, to accompany the cheese and ham rolls. It was good to see what looked like the entire Inter Vyagra team back in the clubhouse.
Man of the match – Chris Webb, for releasing our pent-up frustrations with probably as good a winner as ever scored on that pitch, and a contender for goal of the season.
Man of the match: Chris Webb