Sunday 6th February 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Find their Way Again
After two successive defeats, with feelings of penance and contrition, Farnborough Senior Vets took the long road to redemption with an away fixture in the depths of Kent, against an unknown team in Edenbridge Vets. Getting there felt like a pilgrimage to some of us – who got lost twice.
In dry but overcast and very windy conditions Farnborough lined up as follows: Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Chris Webb and Nick Kinnear in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, Roger French, and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; John Tallis and Colin Brazier up front. Paul Bell was the 12th disciple.
Having lost the toss we were playing against the gale as the first half got underway. Not surprisingly we were penned back in our half as Edenbridge bustled and probed. Toby Manchip was called to make a very smart save after only 5 minutes – and from then on, we took great pleasure in frustrating Edenbridge. Whenever they nearly broke through there was always one of us in the way. Some of it was last ditch but it kept us in it. Nick Kinnear and Steve Blanchard twice got involved in some 6-yard box pinball, once with the aid of a post – the longer this went on the more confident we were of weathering the storm.
We were not without danger ourselves. John Tallis was like a Kentish oak in the wind as he got his head to throw-ins and goal kicks – one of the many features of Toby’s game that worked well today, held the ball and brought others into play. Mehmet Bozyigit was particularly prominent on the right of midfield with his direct running, changes of direction and pace, that brought some heavy tackling his way, without complaint. On the other side, Colin Brazier was equally energetic, tracking back and closing down. In the centre of midfield, the return of Sinisa Gracanin brought some graft and craft to our play and Ian Shoebridge was supporting John effectively and threatening to score.
Then as away teams like to do – we silenced the crowd and the border collie – with a trademark goal from Mehmet Bozygit - as he latched on to a through ball from John Tallis, cut in, advanced at speed on the Edendridge central defender who hesitated, was bypassed as Mehmet poked the ball behind him, ran round and did the same to the keeper. This was more against the wind than against the run of play, and well-deserved.
Predictably Edenbridge stirred and went looking for an equaliser – mainly down our left side where Roger French and Nick Kinnear were coming under increased pressure. This is not a good idea with Roger as he blew his lid when the referee awarded a free kick to Edenbridge just outside the box. As a member of the defenders' union, I could see why this decision could be disputed but I was not prepared, even after all this time, for the force with which Roger chose to take the matter up with the referee. I must commend the referee for the saintly way he handled the next couple of minutes (and the whole game in fact) as he called Roger and Farnborough captain du jour, Chris Webb, to him, for a wise word. To the sin of anger Roger was in danger of adding that of stupidity as Chris pointed out to him that getting banished from the garden of Edenbridge would not be helpful. I cannot confirm the rumour that the referee was the spitting image of the bloke that did the MOT on Roger’s car earlier in the week.
Anyway the free kick was taken and Edenbridge equalised as the edge of wall parted like the red sea and the wind and a powerful left foot shot did the rest. Roger was still simmering down, we think, when minutes later, he attempted a 40-yard volley with his right foot which became an up and under that Nick Kinnear did well to cope with, five yards behind Roger.
At half-time we felt that the tide (or should that be wind) would turn the game in our favour – and so it came to pass. Nick Kinnear made way for Paul Bell, as Roger dropped back into the defence – from where he proceeded to have a more composed display. From left midfield Paul was to become involved in several near misses and I suppose it was a compliment when the Edenbridge right back with the hard tackle took him from behind, roughly.
Mehmet showed his bristling intent only five minutes into the second half as he flashed a shot inches over the bar. He was to give the Edenbridge defence a hellish time and take us to paradise, I suppose. He laid on the goal that took us to 2-1 with a cut-back to Ian Shoebridge that was placed low into the bottom corner. Ian had come close to scoring already in the game but this time got the pace and direction of his shot right. With the wind behind us we had more of a presence in and around the Edenbridge box, and the supply from midfield and defence was now more regular and more purposeful – with John Tallis an effective target man.
That is not to say that Edenbridge were entirely edentate. Three times Toby Manchip was asked a question from close range and three times he denied them. After the hellish torment of last week – today’s game brought heavenly feelings for Toby – not that we had lost faith in him.
The third Farnborough goal was the best saved by Mehmet until about fifteen minutes from the end, as he glided past defenders, with quick feet and quicker brain, to poke the ball past the keeper from close range – almost as Paul Bell was getting ready to poach the goal. There was even time for Steve “Duracell” Blanchard to find himself in the box more than once – to “run off some extra energy”.
This was a tough match – not only in testing conditions, but against a robust, muscular yet fair team that gave no quarter but played without malice. In the end we prevailed as we rediscovered our touch, and returned to what served us well earlier in the season - short passing, care of the ball, collective endeavour, solidarity, energy and movement and a compact shape with players in their best positions.
As all twelve of us sat in the Crown public house – as pilgrims on their way back might have done in times past, there was an air of inner peace and hallowed contentment about us. All was well again, Eden regained, the trespasses of the past forgiven and washed away.
Ye Olde Crown – an Elizabeth II screen informed us – had been there since the Edward III days. The open fireplace, the low oak-beamed ceilings had an air of authenticity about them and to add to the atmosphere Paul Bell produced the sort of noxious smell that took us right back to medieval times. I understand that some tourist attractions like the London Dungeon do this with chemicals. As I put a log on the fire I could not help thinking that Paul ought to lay down some logs of his own. Still that did not put us off the prawn, roast beef and mustard, and cheese and pickle sandwiches that were laid in front of us by the roaring fire.
Man of the match today – or should that be mem of the match: Mehmet Bozyigit for two goals, an assist and an overall performance that was as smooth and strong as Turkish silk (with Toby Manchip, deservedly, the only other player that got votes today).
Man of the match: Mehmet Bozyigit