Sunday 5th September 2010
By Patrice Mongelard with a second report by Roger French
Farnborough Surprise Orpington, and Themselves with 4-1 Derby Win
Let’s face it: our unbeaten run rarely lasts beyond our first game, and some of us will have replayed, in our minds, last season’s corresponding opening fixture against the same opponents, at the same ground, when we lost 3-1 after leading 1-0 at half time. The omens were not great - some missing players, three new players on show (two in defence), a late pull-out, Roger French up front, and one no-show.
Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Trevor Stewart, Leo Maccioni and Mehmet Bozyigit in defence (we are quite an international outfit these days); Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Mark Perry and Jerry Cogotti in midfield; Gary Magnus and Roger French up front. Rod Loe was our only substitute, as Andy “Compo” Faulks never showed – perhaps too much summer wine, and pulling a Nora Batty look-alike at Beavers last night.
I am not sure we had all touched the ball by the time Leo Maccioni got our first goal, two minutes into the game, with a firm, well-placed, and free downward header from the first corner of the game. I cannot recall a quicker goal for the vets in my almost 350 games. This certainly helped us settle down. Ian Shoebridge and Sinisa Gracanin anchored the centre of midfield where Orpington were robust and lively. We threatened more, in particular down the right where Mehmet Bozyigit and Mark Perry were combining well. Our defence was not greatly troubled but we had to be vigilant against two tall, fast and energetic Orpington forwards only too happy to run at, and behind us. We had to guard against being caught square, or short at the back and Gary Fentiman was quick off his line when he had to be.
We had most of the play but neither side created real goal scoring chances for most of that half. It was noticeable that in the last ten minutes of the half Orpington applied a bit more vigour down the right and through the middle. Eventually a pass got through and a powerful shot from inside the box was parried by Gary Fentiman but he could not divert it over the bar and that was the Orpington equaliser with one minute left to half time.
Trevor Stewart made way for Rod Loe at half time and the first twenty minutes of the second half were fairly even though the neutral spectator would have concluded we had more of the ball. The youthful Jerry Cogotti on the left of our midfield was finding more space and threading passes through. Mehmet Bozyigit was more wingback than fullback; Mark Perry was completing a lot of his passes and Roger French nearly got to the end of one or two things in the box. Gary Magnus was full of clever runs that stretched the Orpington defence. Orpington were playing a more direct and muscular football but the light ball travelled too quickly for them to Gary Fentiman in our goal, and there was always a Farnborough body part, usually belonging to Leo Maccioni or Patrice Mongelard, in the way.
Then came our breakthrough mid way through the half: Sinisa Gracanin picked the ball in the middle of that corridor of uncertainty between the edge of the box and the half way line, drifted past two players, all the while moving to his left and just when we thought he did not really have a left foot, surprised everyone with a low shot from same peg, into the bottom corner that the hitherto always well-positioned Orpington keeper was powerless to stop. Our relief was enormous and our appetite greatly stimulated as goals number three and four followed in quick succession. Mark Perry produced an equally unexpected and well-struck twenty-five yarder that sailed over the keeper’s head to give us a more comfortable 3-1 lead. Mehmet Bozyigit’s overlapping runs down the right were then finally rewarded as his quick and clever footwork created a space for him to score from six yards to make it 4-1.
There was time though for a sting in the Orpington tail as they brought a point blank save from Gary Fentiman and an even more treasured penalty save, after Rod Loe had interposed himself between an Orpington forward and the ball, inside the box. The penalty award was the only disputed event in the whole of that game, which was played in excellent spirit throughout by two teams which both wanted to win this long-standing and traditional opening fixture.
Man of the match today with the lion’s share of the votes, even after Rod Loe’s vote was re-assigned, was Sinisa Gracanin.
But we could not help think what a good all round team performance we had produced with several of the new players making their mark in such a positive way. Despite the absence of a bar and Shirley’s sandwiches after the game the mood was very positive. The future looks bright, well until next week at least. The players returning next week have a lot to live up to.
So the start of a new season had arrived and with the familiar problems of summer holidays getting in the way of team selection it was a credit to the management duo of Statler & Waldorf that we took to the pitch with a squad of 12 players.
Making their debuts were no less than three players – Mehmet Bozyigit (who had been tempted to come along to a Wednesday training session and was snapped up straightaway), Leo Maccioni and Jerry Cogotti (both tapped up at a summer barbeque having formerly played for Statler when managing Black Horse Old Boys FC some years ago). In addition we were able to call on our feeder club (CENTYMCA Vets) for the services of Gary Fentiman and Gary Magnus whose Saturday season doesn’t start for another week and so were at a loose end luckily for us.
Following a late night call on Saturday night from Clown Prince Manchip (responsible for dragging half our squad down to the darkest depths of Dorset for young Oliver’s Christening),
It was rumoured that the Wandering Star that is Compo was back in town and raring to go. Rather wary of the ramblings of a madman I decided to text the man myself and actually got a positive response so it was something of a surprise when he failed to show.
Still every cloud as they say and with our prodigal striker out of the picture this left the door open for me to fulfil my natural role (despite my co-manager's lack of faith and appreciation of the endless running...at least for the first 15 minutes or so) of goal hanger.
Having introduced the new players I put option 4 into operation and we lined up as follows:
Gary Fentiman (GK)
Mehmet Bozyigit (RB)
Patrice Mongelard (CB)
Leo Maccioni (CB)
Trevor Stewart (LB)
Mark Perry (RM)
Ian Shoebridge (CM)
Sinisa Gracanin (CM)
Jerry Cogotti (LM)
Gary Magnus (CF)
Roger French (CF)
Sub: Rod Loe
Our last game against Orpington earlier this year ended in a 6-2 defeat with us being totally overrun in the first half. This time we were taking no chances and within 3 minutes we were ahead as a ball was threaded through to new CF Statler who won a corner following a lay-off to fellow striker Gary Magnus. The corner was swung over by Shoey and rising highest on the penalty spot was debutant Leo Maccioni to head the ball into the far corner with his first touch of the game – what a start.
This settled us down nicely and we started to play an excellent passing game which when you consider this was our first game with a number of new faces was very pleasing. Orpington were equally capable of stringing together passing moves and this resulted in a very even game. Even though we had plenty of attacking play we couldn’t convert this to clear attempts on goal – the ball tended to run away from our ageing strikeforce (combined ages of close to 100 at a conservative estimate).
Our defence was looking very solid with Mehmet Bozyigit always willing to overlap and working very well with Mark Perry. The central combination of Patrice Mongelard and Leo Maccioni did well to snuff out the threat from the tall Orpington strikers whilst Trev Stewart worked hard to feed Jerry Cogotti on the left. Our regular central midfield dynamos of Shoey and Sini were just that and kept running all game.
Leading up to half-time a lapse in concentration allowed Orpington to run through our midfield and thread the ball through to their striker who hit a powerful shot that Gary Fentiman in goal did well to parry but could not prevent it from going in for the equaliser. There was only time for a restart before the whistle went for the break.
With only the one sub Rod Loe came on for Trevor at left back and we were now playing up the slight slope. The game continued on an even keel but as the half wore on we started to take control of possession. We needed to get a goal and last season’s Managers' Player of the Season duly obliged. Sinisa Gracanin picked up the ball in midfield and drifted past two or three players on the edge of the box before drilling a left foot shot into the bottom corner.
This gave us the breathing space we needed although for some us oxygen would have been more appropriate. Attacks continued down both flanks with cross field balls being supplied by Mehmet and Mark on the right and Jerry on the left. The pressure soon paid off when Mark cleverly spotted the keeper off his line and hit a dipping 25 yarder for number three.
Our defence had to be vigilant but as in the first half the ball was travelling just that bit far for the Orpington forwards and Gary was always quick to come off his line to sweep up. The pressure was further relieved when Mehmet on one of his overlapping runs into the opposition’s box created space for himself to rifle in our fourth goal of the game.
The drama was not over as Rod collided with an Orpington striker just inside our box with the ball virtually out of play but a penalty was the call. Once the penalty spot was located a low shot to the bottom left post was well struck but Gary diving full length made an excellent save to push the ball round the post. Not long after, the ref blew for full time on what had been a very evenly contested and fair game.
MOM votes and match fees were collected from everybody although we did have to have a recount once we realised that Rod was labouring under the misapprehension that Trevor “Stewy” Stewart was Shoey. This did not affect the end result as the majority of votes went to Sini – it might be worth investing in shirts with names on the back!
To sum up, this was a very pleasing result not only in the scoreline but the overall team performance with the introduction of some very good players. Next week we should have a few returning to cover those who will not be available from today’s game so a few familiar faces could be in the mix such as Steve Blanchard and Chris Webb.
And for those of you who have forgotten what our long lost fixtures secretary and former Vets manager Toby “Lord Lucan” Harlow looks like then here is one for you:
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin