Sunday 20th March 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets\' Wings Clipped by Buff Vets in 1-0 Defeat
After four consecutive victories and clean sheets, we dared hope to rule the roost against Buff Vets today – but once again it is the Buff Vets that ended up crowing. I suppose it is a measure of the progress we have made this season that we did not come off worse against opponents of undeniable quality, who had put out a rather strong team today, which would have tested even our younger vets. And to cap it all, the Buff did not score the winning goal – more on that egg-on-face moment later.
After what seemed like a long time, waiting for the kit, waiting for players to get changed, and waiting to release and wheel the goal posts in position – the match started in very pleasant weather, with Farnborough perched as follows: Gary Fentiman in goal; Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard and Danny Winter in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mehmet Bozyigit and John Tallis in midfield; Andy Smith and Leo Maccioni up front. Roger French and Paul Bell completed the Farnborough flock.
It did not take us very long to realise what a tough task lay ahead. This was physically the biggest side we have come up against, with four or five players, not unsuited for the oval ball I thought, on this last weekend of the Six Nations. They had two mobile man mountains up front, a road runner on the wing, and pulling the strings with that left wand of his, as per usual, Barry Grainger – and a robust defence that was hard to penetrate.
Three minutes into the first half, Roger French replaced Andy Smith who left the field – thankfully only to change his footwear. After recent difficulties the top pitch was in the best condition we have seen it this season – the Farrow Fields boot room had decided to play on the smaller pitch, to counter the expected pace of the Buff Vets and their ability to run into acres of space from deep, by compressing the play.
There were not many clear chances created in that first half by either side. It was an even affair, with some dangerous moments at both ends. Our main worry was set pieces from Barry Grainger’s left foot – as we gave some corners and free kicks away. One Buff corner was particularly good and required an exceptional save from Gary Fentiman. There were other shots from distance, handled with great assurance and no spillages by Gary. John Tallis supplemented the back four and for long periods we held our own.
At the other end Leo Maccioni had a rasping shot that flew past the Buff post. Mehmet Bozyigit had what looked like a good chance when put through by Patrice Mongelard but the Buff keeper made it difficult. We enjoyed some good moments down the right with Danny Winter and Mehmet Bozyigit giving the Buff much to think about. Leo Maccioni got behind the Buff defence more than once with his eager running. Chris Webb was very busy in the centre of midfield, temporarily without Sinisa Gracanin who had moved to the left to support Andy Smith, and who at one point was sumo-wrestled off the pitch.
At half time John Tallis and Patrice Mongelard made way for Roger French and Paul Bell. Three minutes into the second half, Roger French – with virtually his first touch, was unfortunate to see the ball rebound off him into the net, after a fantastic save by Gary Fentiman. This half was most eventful for Roger – he was ditched later. By this I mean that he waded into a ditch to retrieve the ball for a throw in and to his surprise found it full of water and aggressive leaves. Talking of aggression Roger was responsible for the most serious moment of “fowl” play in that half, as he scythed the Buff road runner on the cusp of the box – it was premeditated, and predictable, but the referee only gave him a talking to. To their credit, and in the spirit in which the whole game was played, Buff made nothing of it – though they could have. The referee, Roy Seymour, admitted later, in the bar, that it had crossed his mind to send Roger off. The advice from half the Senior Vets management, to him, was not to hesitate next time it happens, as it will.
It is fair to say that we were tested even more in that half. Emboldened by the goal, and secure in the comfort of a solid defence, the Buff took the game to us and they had a few shots but on the whole Gary Fentiman was equal to the challenge, including a rather brave dive at the feet of a rather big unit, in the six yard box.
What about the Farnborough chances you ask. Well, there was a memorable shot from Leo Maccioni that rolled very close past the post. Mehmet Bozyigit was almost in on a couple of occasions, one culminating in a goal ruled offside by the Buff manager, running the line. John Tallis came back on, up front in place of Andy Smith who had toiled in vain in front of his lad. John was in the thick of it when the scrum collapsed around him with the ball trapped in the midst of seven prostrate players in the Buff six yard box. Patrice Mongelard saw out the last fifteen minutes in place of Steven Blanchard as we pressed for an equaliser that never came
This is the second time that the Senior Vets management have scored an own goal against the Buff this season, but today’s own goal was decisive. There is no doubt that the Buff deserved their victory, and the score will have seemed a paltry return for the quality of their play, but we had our chances too.
I should mention that Nick Kinnear appeared towards the end of the first half and ended up running the line for the latter part of the second half. Toby Manchip also made an appearance, to his great chagrin, moments after Roger had won the Buff Vets man of the match award, but he was able to see Roger ditched – and left some tweetings on the white board in the Farnborough dressing room.
I forgot that the early bird catches the worm, as having tarried to sweep two dressing rooms, I missed most of the splendid spread laid on by Pam Shoebridge, and had to content myself with a few crumbs off the bird table.
The mood in the club house was relaxed – it was good to see the entire Buff side, and numerous fledglings in there. Vic Farrow, full of his usual bonhomie, clucked over his brood of water bottles until the missing one was reunited with the others.
Farnborough man of the match today was Gary Fentiman, tested and emerging with resplendent plumage, with Chris Webb not far behind in the pecking order.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman