Sunday 27th March 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Good Times Return for Senior Vets with 5-0 win as Clocks go Forward
The changing of the clocks did not look like it had affected our timekeeping as most of us turned up on a still morning, suffused with sunlight, burning off the last of the morning mist, to gaze upon a crucible of a rustic pitch in a pleasant rural setting, in Oakfield Park near Dartford. I say most of us because two of our hands had travelled correctly through time, but not through space, as they went to last year’s ground where we played today’s opponents. From where we were in the car park, accessible in first gear only, the far goalposts looked like corner flags when laid down, but this was just an optical illusion as the brain and the eye had trouble adjusting to the lie of the land.
We also had an oddly shaped dressing room, with more corners than usual, which had the unfortunate effect of limiting ventilation – as Chris Webb tested our gagging reflex, with a flatus that made Paul Bell’s effort in an Edenbridge public house a few weeks ago, feel like an eau de toilette commercial.
We had 15 players available and the various permutations/options/scenarios, which “wasted a good tree” according to our elder statesman (Andy Smith) produced the following starting line-up: Jim St John in goal; Steve Blanchard, John Tallis, Danny Winter and Chris Bourlet in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mehmet Bozyigit and Patrice Mongelard in midfield; Andy Smith and Ian Shoebridge up front. Roger French, Paul Bell, Nick Kinnear and Toby Manchip completed the Farnborough 15. Even that was not quite to plan as Nick Kinnear, who had to travel forward by a year, so to speak, from last year’s ground, was not quite ready to start at left back. He replaced Chris Bourlet about 10 minutes into the half.
Once we had adjusted to the contours of the pitch and established a rhythm and a shape we had more of the possession. But the first scare of the match was ours as a back pass from Steve Blanchard was under-hit – and Jim St John was lured to the edge of the box but could not get to the ball first – but thankfully the giant shadow he cast was enough to put the forward off. Our chances started coming – the best ones fell to Patrice Mongelard – the first was from a short pass by Andy Smith which played him in behind the defence, only to roll his shot against the base of the post. The second chance was an even better one as he pounced on a missed clearance in the centre of the Princes Park defence to advance clean through on goal only to snatch at a shot that went well wide when he could have carried the ball closer to the goal. In between those two misses Andy Smith had showed how it should be done by getting ahead of his marker to poke home a low cross from the right from Mehmet Bozyigit – the first of our five goals all created from the right today.
Twenty five minutes into the half Toby Manchip came on for Patrice Mongelard on the left of midfield. Toby has been carrying an injury we think – as this is the only reason why he was caught up by the Princes Park sexagenarian, despite a five yard headstart. Toby’s arrival triggered some on-field banter which was not meant as any disrepect to our opponents (which Andy Smith took a dim view of), but as disrespect to Toby – which nobody minds.
At half time we made changes as Danny Winter went off for yet another birthday party in his wide circle of friends and relatives – and Patrice Mongelard returned at right back. Paul Bell came on at right midfield and Roger French went up front as Ian Shoebridge and Mehmet Bozyigit took a breather. Much as in the previous game against Princes Park, we found the second half more productive. We scored early in the half as Chris Webb produced an acrobatic header from a Patrice Mongelard corner to give us the comfort of a second goal and relax our play. Then we began to express ourselves as the passing moves returned to our game and we applied steady pressure, earning more corners. Roger French produced a left foot shot from distance that looked very good until it went a foot over.
Then we had a couple of injuries which showed the value of having the numbers that we are able to field for every game as first Toby Manchip and then Andy Smith had to go off. Chris Bourlet and Ian Shoebridge came back on. Ian in particular gave us a bit more mobility to attack the Princes Park defence down the right and from one 30 yard run he slipped the ball behind the defence for Roger French to produce a delicate first time chip with his right foot to score our third goal. According to Roger, the Princes Park manager referred to the moment as a “superb bit of skill”. This was indeed a moment of finesse not usually associated with Roger, which is probably why it was not witnessed by Master Thomas French. The clocks will go back and forward many times before that moment is repeated, I suspect.
Ian Shoebridge was to get his just reward – when he burst through on the right to score our fourth from close range as he capitalised on a defensive lapse following a cushioned header by Chris Webb from a long clearance by Jim St John. Mehmet Bozyigit came back on for Nick Kinnear and promptly gave us a renewed threat down the right as Ian Shoebridge and Patrice Mongelard threaded passes to him. 4-0 became 5-0 after Paul Bell, who seems to have an uncanny ability to be in the right place in the box, got his unmarked head to a superb cross from Sinisa Gracanin, after a sweeping passing move involving five Farnborough players, again on the right. We nearly got a sixth when a curling corner from Patrice Mongelard, this time from an elevated position on the left, was cleared off the line. There was time for one last scare as Princes Park failed to get a shot on target with Jim St John not in an ideal position – this would have given them a goal which their endeavour deserved, but it was not to be as we registered another clean sheet (our sixth this season).
Our return to the Farnborough clubhouse was not expected, and consequently, there were only a few morsels left and Roger French was reduced to eating his lad’s jam sandwiches. Still we were able to catch up with Colin Brazier selling some nags for the Farnborough Old Boys Guild Race Night soon to be under starter’s orders. As we could name the horses there was some fun with that (probably against Jockey Club rules), and Toby Manchip bought two horses – not often a donkey gets to own two thorougbreds you might be tempted to think.
In two games against us Princes Park have suffered two heavy defeats and toiled with scant reward. Apart from a couple of tricky crosses in the first half – and controlling a couple of dodgy back passes on a bobbly pitch, Jim St John had a quiet first half – the second one was as quiet, if not quieter. Yet – at no point did Princes Park stop trying to pass the ball, lose their composure or get physical – much to their credit.
Next week – Catford Wanderers – and a race against time to get Toby Manchip fit so he can put the clock back and make amends against them. An oxygen tent has been suggested – though the Webb family takes priority, if daddy’s condition does not respond to medication.
Farnborough Man of the Match today was Sinisa Gracanin, for a performance that went like clockwork.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin