Saturday 20th November 2010
Ron Pope Cup
By Colin Brazier
4ths Find themselves in House of Pain
Back on the cup trail with a home Ron Pope fixture with House of Praise, an unbeaten team out of the division above.
Now the Fourths don’t take to cup games too well (not much different to league games I hear you say!). In fact, the last time we won one, exactly 4 years and 15 attempts ago, Steve Blanchard scored!!! Senior that is! At the right end! In fact Junior would have been only 12 at the time. I found an account from way back in the archives...an ancient scribe by the name of Neil Smith described the unusual event thus:
...a corner for Farnborough was converted by the unlikely goal poaching skills of Steve Blanchard.
We were still on an “up” from last week’s performance against AFC Bromley. Even the return of Todd couldn’t dampen our spirits, but the early kickoff had thrown us into a certain amount of disarray, with Luke Allen unable to get away early and Steve Blanchard Senior on taxi duty at Gatwick. Disarray because it looked like we would have to start with 10, and not knowing which of the latecomers would arrive early and having to nominate a substitute introduced an element of risk...nominate Steve as sub, and then have him arrive first, meant we couldn’t bring him on without taking one of our ten off! Anyway all this worry proved unnecessary as the smirking Gooner (2-0 up!) strode into the dressing room just as Des and Mark had ended the team talk, to this line-up:
Jez Allen – GK
Steve Blanchard jnr - RB
Todd Arnold – CB
Steve Blanchard snr – CB
Colin Brazier – LB
James Foyle – RM
Neil Barnes – CM
Matt Gardiner – CM
Mark Edwards – CM
Scott Barnes – LM
Connor Barclay – CF
Luke Allen - Sub.
We had expected the visitors, with their unbeaten record, to start briskly but there was a certain nervousness about their game in the early stages, which meant we could settle into the game much easier than expected. As last week, we had five across midfield and were all working hard, but House of Praise began to use the wider pitch and stretch us down the flanks (particularly our left). No idea why, maybe their manager saw some profit down that wing for their pacy, young, energetic, skilful winger? No, you’re right, there must have been some other reason.
Despite the back four doing well as we had been playing, your reporter decided to change tack by getting close to his man as the ball was played to him in a deep position, and was easily rolled by the winger who instigated a swift passing move ending with an easy finish. 0-1. It was after this that our unwanted signing, Individual Errors, interrupted our promising attacking play by scoring a hat-trick to leave us with a half time deficit of 4 goals. House of Praise were in no mood to demonstrate the church’s merciful side, as after each goal one of their players would race into the net to retrieve the ball!
One of the things about having youngsters play for us is that we get the benefit of the wisdom of their fathers, and Neil Barnes and Nick Barclay always have good points to make at the interval. On this occasion it was felt that H of P were able to pass the ball around us when we pressed, so we decided to concede them territory until the final third. This worked well and the only further damage was done when yours truly made a dog’s breakfast of a routine piece of defending. My spirits were very low at this point (I have never seen a winger so disappointed to be subbed!) but I am grateful for Todd’s efforts to cheer me up, and I must learn from how he bounces back from all his cock-ups which he does with regular aplomb (sorry mate, it’s one of the compensations for writing the reports!).
We kept trying to play football and were rewarded when Connor put Luke through for a fine finish to give us our consolation. A very touching scene followed when the proud dad ventured all the way to the halfway line to add his congratulations!
A good old fashioned beating then, but when you take into account the nature of the goals, the youth and pace of the opposition, who train twice a week and are very well organised, and the good performances of the youngsters in our own side, there are positives to take. Jez capped a decent day for the Allen household by shading the Man of the Match award from James Foyle.
Finally, a word of apology to our volunteer linesman Ian Foyle for an out of place piece of criticism from myself. My mood was only slightly improved when I had corroboration of Tottenham’s amazing comeback from 4 different verifiable sources.
No more cup games for at least two more weeks!
Man of the match: Jez Allen