Sunday 30th January 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets in a Sorry State as Crofton Albion Pull a Fast One
If last week was a bitter pill to swallow, then what of today’s harsh medicine? No doubt about it the Senior Vets are an ailing, moribund, sickly, lethargic, out of shape, and sorry lot. We played without intelligence, solidarity, hunger or desire. We should all be asking ourselves if we are fit to wear the shirt. Are we approaching our games with the right tactics, formation, frame of mind, physical condition, and are we each and every one of us letting our team mates down?
On my way up to the pitch I got talking to the Crofton Albion No. 9, who had a fresh complexion, unlined face, clear eyes, and not a fleck of grey in his luxuriant coiffure. He assured me that he smoked, and had a young child, and so felt he was old enough to play vets football. He played us alright – more on that later.
Crofton Albion could only field 10 players today and for some reason we could not persuade any of our two subs to swap our shirt for theirs. Odd that – but the odds against us had already been cast. In an oddly prophetic moment Andy Faulks had altered Toby Manchip’s name on the notice board in the dressing room, to something that will remain between us – well same number of letters but with an s and a t.
In dry crisp weather and without a breeze, or sunlight, Farnborough lined up as follows: Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and John Tallis in defence; Chris Webb, Ian Shoebridge, Mark Perry and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; Leo Maccioni and Andy Faulks up front. Paul Bell and Nick Kinnear ran both lines until they could come on later.
The first ten minutes were deceptively easy – and perhaps therein lay the problem. Chris Webb hit the post in that time. We had most of the possession – and most of the play was in the Crofton Albion half – in fact, that was not to change throughout the game. Our first goal was scored with relative ease – Mehmet Bozygit broke through on the right, cut inside, and spotted Chris Webb’s darting run behind the defence, played him in, and Chris finished coolly with a well-placed goal.
Our lead lasted ten minutes or so. During that time Chris Webb had a great chance to make it 2-0 but shot narrowly wide. By then the Crofton Albion weapon of choice was clear, long through balls to No. 9, who was balanced, two-footed, very quick, and with a good eye for goal – almost unplayable. Spotting the danger is one thing - dealing with it another as we failed to double up on him, went flat at the back, and paid the price. When he broke through on the left there was another 40 yards to our goal; and as he advanced Ian Coles and Patrice Mongelard converged on him. By then he had spotted that Toby Manchip had ventured off his line, unnecessarily, and showed him where to put the ball, over his head into the unguarded net.
No worries we thought – we’ll go and get another one. We tried, Andy Faulks had two one-to-ones, both fluffed. Leo Maccioni made space in the box more than once but shot tamely. Mehmet Bozyigit came very close with a low shot that fizzed across the box. All these missed chances were to prove costly. “We’re going to pay for that” – shouted Toby Manchip – using the royal “we”.
Then Ian Shoebridge carried the ball into the heart of the Crofton Albion defence before slipping it to Leo Maccioni who shot emphatically from six yards out. 2-1 to Farnborough.
A calamitous 10 minutes followed for Toby Manchip and for Farnborough. I never thought I’d say, or write this, but I felt sorry for Toby Manchip, as two goalkeeping blunders cast a huge shadow on the game and put us in arrears that we never recovered from. A 35-yard punt towards the goal saw Toby doing a rather good Marcel Marceau impression as he locked his knees together, splayed his legs, opened his palms outwards in front of his chest, and then either misjudged the flight of the ball, or took his eye off it, or was distracted by a UFO, as it dipped and went through his legs into the net. 2-2. Five minutes later Crofton Albion took the lead as a shot from distance, which we failed to close down, 30 yards out, dead centre, was not dealt with as it should have been by you know who. 3-2 to Crofton Albion. Whatever shreds of confidence we had drained out of the team. We persuaded Toby to continue in goal and refused to consider his transfer request. Paul Bell came on at half time for Mark Perry.
Ten minutes into the second half – Toby Manchip pulled his hamstring, and was replaced in goal by Patrice Mongelard, who had somehow managed to get to the head of the crowd vying for the position. Nick Kinnear came on at left back and we carried pretty much as before. The pattern of the game continued. We had most of the possession. Crofton defended in numbers, robustly and with confidence, playing themselves out of trouble more than once – always seeking to unleash the torpedo up front, by then policed by Ian Coles who had swapped places in defence with John Tallis. For a while this worked – and when it failed, Patrice Mongelard was able to make saves to keep us in with a chance to equalise. We came close – Andy Faulks had a goal ruled offside, and Paul Bell had a shot pushed against the cross bar. But that was it. We failed to make the most of the extra player, we failed to find the killer pass, we failed to stay onside many times, and we failed to get back when we lost the ball.
The fourth Crofton Albion goal had an air of inevitability to it. Ball over the top to quick youngster, who outstripped the defence, drew the keeper and squared the ball to extremely belligerent teammate who was unmarked, and the ball was rolled into the Farnborough net.
It could have been a lot worse were it not for three good saves from Patrice Mongelard. I’d like to think Toby Manchip would have saved them but I cannot be certain about that any more, as I watched Toby drop his gloves on the way out of the club, after he’d swept the away team dressing room (and collected their man of the match award). But we are a loyal lot at Farnborough and if Toby survives the transfer window, I shall be happy to have him in goal again – it is not a job I fancy, and Toby has done many good things in the past for the team.
The odds against us playing this team from the Kidbrooke area again, next season, lengthened considerably today – Toby Harlow please note. No - it was not that they played a 20-year old, without apology, but more the way they played this match. There was a nasty undercurrent to it, caused by one or two individuals but enough to poison the well. Mick Gearing as referee, as fair-minded a septuagenarian as you could wish for, to his great credit, came through constant nagging, backchat, abuse and pressure, and some of their tackling was late and spiteful.
Shirley’s sandwiches helped to comfort the dispirited team as we recorded that the Farnborough Man of the Match today was Chris Webb, for unmatched spirit and endeavour, with votes also cast for Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard, John Tallis and yes, in the best tradition of gallows humour and ironic twists, Toby Manchip. Next week we are up against a pub team in Edenbridge. We surely must do better.
Man of the match: Chris Webb