Sunday 17th April 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Come Through Searching Examination by Youthful Avery Hill Vets to Record First Draw of the Season
On marathon day we bring you news of a great draw, our first in 25 friendlies, against a team of teachers that had failed to learn their lines (I must not field young players against senior vets).
Before the match the school photograph for the FOBG Senior Vets class of 2010-2011 was taken by Colin Brazier, with some truants sadly. The Farnborough register read like this: Toby Manchip in goal; Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Danny Winter and Nick Kinnear in defence; Patrice Mongelard, Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit and Mark Perry in midfield; John Tallis and Leo Maccioni as forwards. Roger French and Eric Johnson sat at the back of the class. Eric was our international player, who had scored in every game he had played for Farnborough this season.
Avery Hill started with ten players until they were joined after twenty minutes by Yaya Toure. But I am not sure they missed him – given their formation and tactics, quality of their play and technical ability of several of their players – due in no small part to the presence of a few players, including two whippets in attack, that ought to have been on the adjoining pitch where our young vets were playing.
The early exchanges of the first half were even, with not many chances created. Avery Hill were quick on the break whilst we built our play more slowly. The first clear chance fell to Avery Hill when a 25-yard strike was tipped onto the crossbar acrobatically by Toby Manchip, and Patrice Mongelard was just able to prevent the nippy Avery Hill winger from putting the ball into an empty net. Avery Hill were to hit the woodwork again in that half. At the other end we were making chances of our own. John Tallis was winning headers, and Leo Maccioni was chasing down defenders whilst Mehmet Bozyigit applied pressure on the right with his crosses and dribbles, ably supported by fullback Danny Winter.
The first goal was scored by Avery Hill after 25 minutes as defenders Ian Coles and Steve Blanchard were not quite able to clear the danger from the muscular presence of an Avery Hill midfielder who had barrelled his way onto a through ball in the centre of our defence, and the loose ball fell kindly to the young Avery Hill winger who rolled it past Toby. Such is our resilience these days, however, that we went on to create the best two chances of the half. First Mehmet Bozyigit was played in behind the defence by Mark Perry, and drew an incredible reflex save from the Avery Hill keeper from three yards out. Then Leo Maccioni charged down a defensive clearance, broke into the box, and had a clear view of goal only to roll his low shot a foot wide. Saves from Toby, poor finishing by Avery Hill in one clear instance, and the strength of Steve Blanchard and Ian Coles’ mobility to defend, and mark the quick Avery Hill attacking kept us only one goal behind at half-time.
Roger French came on at left back for Nick Kinnear who went on the touchline as linesman (or assistant referee). Eric Johnson replaced John Tallis to add pace and skill to our attack as a striker. Roger’s defensive intensity and the early second goal scored by Avery Hill changed the mood of the game and the referee, Mick Gearing, had a job keeping the class under control and his yellow or red cards in his pocket. Yet the first ten minutes of the first half were ours as we put the Avery Hill goal under pressure, and a betting man would at that point have backed Farnborough to equalise. But as often happens in football possession and pressure do not mean much – as Danny Winter, normally so sure of touch, rolled back a pass towards our box which should have travelled fast on the hard pitch, but an even faster traveller was the young Avery Hill forward who got there just before Toby Manchip could kick the ball, to tuck it into the net for a 2-0 lead to Avery Hill.
For a while headmaster Gearing had a job to keep things calm, amid angry calls for offside or handball, and not dispense cautions or suspensions. There were plenty of afters and mutterings about cheats, and talented youngsters who should be playing others their same age, instead of 50-year olds. Roger French was probably not far from being expelled, but what concentrated minds was that we got back into the game midway through the second half when Patrice Mongelard picked up the ball outside the Farnborough box, and advanced into the midfield, to slip a clever ball that put Eric Johnson through, only for him to turn his marker and roll the ball into the path of Mehmet Bozyigit to shoot, with a precise low finish into the Avery Hill net (just like a training ground move). By then Avery Hill had swapped goalkeeper and another large physical presence had joined the front line.
The goal gave us renewed resolve. Roger French made a fantastic clearance under our goalposts from an Avery Hill corner. John Tallis came back on (for Steve Blanchard) and Patrice Mongelard dropped into the centre of defence to add his tackles to Roger’s. With fifteen minutes left we won a free kick as Mehmet Bozyigit was up-ended outside the box. Ian Shoebridge resisted Patrice Mongelard’s excitement to let him have a shot, and floated a free-kick onto the head of our tallest player - John Tallis, to get our equaliser (and his first goal of the season – much overdue and well-deserved). The last ten minutes were a little frantic – almost like a quarter-final or semi-final of a cup competition, in the final stages of a tournament (after qualifiers and group matches), though without extra time, and I think not much injury time in spite of Roger’s fouls, as both sides pressed for a winner, as if to avoid a shootout. Eric Johnson hit a powerful shot from the edge of the box that would have been a fitting winner, had it travelled horizontally rather than vertically.
Our spirit was positive after the game. We did not win, but we did not lose either and the end of term report should talk of much progress made – there had been no defeat, disappointment or humiliation for the management who would not be getting the sack. We had won the second half, and had not been beaten by a good team with younger players. We were missing Sinisa Gracanin and Chris Webb, the mainstay of our midfield this season, but had coped thanks to a good all round team performance, sound tactics, patience, passion, pride and the presence of many supporters and fans, including from overseas.
We did not mind too much that the school canteen was closed – and there was no food after the game. The beer was cold, the sun was out and the tempers raised during the game had passed like a storm in a teacup. Talking of tea, Vic Farrow kindly brought us some Earl Grey after the game.
Farnborough teacher’s pet today was Toby Manchip with top marks for his PE lesson in the Farnborough goal, with excellent goal kicks, dives and had there been a penalty he would probably have saved it.
Lastly a bit of homework successfully completed by your match reporter – who managed to get into this report the 100 words that an Italian native speaker would need to manage FOBG Senior Vets. There is one extra word, already mastered by Thomas French, that would be needed but I would get a detention if I put that in here.
Man of the match: Toby Manchip