Sunday 20th February 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Win 4-0 but Manchip & French Let Catford Wanderers Off the Hook
As this was an away game the chances of it being played were good and so it proved. The chances of Farnborough having a full complement of (fit and alert) players were less good as this was the morning after Compo’s (Andy Faulks) birthday – and so it proved too.
Catford Wanderers used to play under the name of Red Barrel and some of us may recall rather feisty encounters with them in our “youth” - but today there was none of that – not on our pitch anyway.
Farnborough lined up like this: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles and Danny Winter in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mehmet Bozyigit and Toby Manchip in midfield; John Tallis and Andy Smith up front. Roger French and Nick Kinnear completed the Farnborough ensemble. Technically, Roger French had the first ten minutes of the game in lieu of Sinisa, who was impersonating a satnav as he guided his wife home, on the phone. I think this was all there was to it, as Sinisa had resisted Compo’s killer chat-up line “come on – you know you want to”, and not joined the birthday party at Biba’s the night before, (where much imbibing took place) according to several first hand witnesses.
Catford Wanderers had let it be known that they were struggling for players (including a keeper) but they still mustered 11, + subs, including three or four players that were a bit younger than our youngest. The referee was Rod Loe, ex-Red Barrel and ex-Farnborough – who had travelled down the A21 from Farnborough, for old times’ sake, to watch, and ended up with a watch and a whistle, but did a good fair job, apart from a momentary failure of his eyesight for the Farnborough fourth goal.
It was puzzling how this game was still 0-0 at half-time, well not really. I could see why - we created and missed several good chances and the makeshift Catford keeper proved better than he had led us to believe. Catford defended in numbers and the younger players I mentioned combined well and matched us in midfield. Our defence held firm though, as experience combined to stifle the youthful exuberance in front of us. Our ‘big green giant’ had relatively little to do in the Farnborough goal.
As usual Mehmet Bozyigit gave our opponents a lot to think about on the right and was backed up by a sharp Danny Winter who was also managing to provide cover in defence. John Tallis was winning headers and linking up well with those around him – in spite of not having any hamstrings (so he tells me). Sinisa Gracanin navigated the midfield with ease and skill, and Chris Webb was holding his own against the Catford youngsters.
We were also very pleased to see our new midweek signing, Andy Smith, a canny bit of business by the management outside the transfer window, giving us a presence, menace and composure in the box, that belied his years, as he caused no end of trouble to the Catford defence. He came very close when he flung himself at a low cross from Mehmet Bozyigit, only to see the ball roll inches past the post. And he was to hit the post from just inside the box as he swivelled and turned his marker. Even earlier than that about ten minutes in the game, Chris Webb will have been disappointed with his finish from three yards, as he used his left foot to lift the ball over the bar with the Catford keeper stranded.
Yet the mood at half time was calm (even Roger’s), patient and confident although Catford were proving more resilient than we liked. Roger French came on for Toby Manchip on the left of midfield as we continued to look for our first goal and keep Catford out. The tipping point of our first goal was a bit scrappy as headers in the Catford box were won in succession, first by Chris Webb and then John Tallis to leave Danny Winter well placed to force the ball home. Five minutes later Andy Smith latched on to a delightful through ball from Chris Webb, rounded the keeper and scored from close range. That was Andy’s last meaningful contribution as he came off with Toby Manchip returning to play up front (if that is the right word). It was good to have a Smith on the Farnborough score sheet again. History may yet show that today saw the end to the ambitions which Toby Manchip and Roger French harboured of playing up front – if you put together their performances, and Andy’s.
The third Farnborough goal came from a ‘pass’ executed by Steve Blanchard, who managed, like some Brazilian, to look one way, position his body and feet so that he could mechanically only send the ball one way, only to put it on the opposite side. Chris advanced in the box, drew the keeper and scored from close range. 3-0 became 4-0 not long after as Patrice Mongelard produced a 35-yarder into the top corner, whose audacity and geometry created an optical illusion, as it was not clear how the ball ended up in the Catford net. For a brief moment, the referee’s distance and failing eyesight, the opposition’s psychological problems with a fourth Farnborough goal, and I regret to say, some mischief making from one or two Farnborough players, it looked like the game might not restart from the centre circle.
What followed was less well executed – Toby Manchip managed to miss a penalty, and the follow-up. He missed two other close range opportunities before his taxi came. Roger French too added to the catalogue of missed chances as he managed to put the ball into the tennis court behind the goal, and also showed his poor grasp of the offside law as he passed to Mehmet Bozyigit when clean through himself. John Tallis put a pile driver into the Homebase car park. Without exaggeration we could have had another 3 goals in the last fifteen minutes – but that would have been a tad cruel on a Catford side that did threaten our goal in the second half, but came up against a solid Farnborough defensive unit – which registered only our second clean sheet this season.
After cold showers, from the bar afterwards, we watched events on the pitch nearby where a game was still being played where things kicked off big time. Even the tennis players, now back on court as Roger was not playing anymore, stopped to watch events as all twenty-two players, subs and supporters created yet more Sunday morning football folklore.
Lastly – as we come to the end of Valentine week – a reminder that romance is not just for 14 February, as I have it from a very reliable source that Toby Harlow bought the wife some flowers on 18 February, as he continues to work on his comeback for the Senior Vets.
Man of the match – Danny Winter for a performance that was as good defensively, as it was offensively – and for the goal that got us on our way eventually.
Man of the match: Danny Winter