Tuesday 3rd May 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Extra Topping for Senior Vets with Delivery of Hard-fought Win
For seven of us today this was our second game in three days, and the Senior Vets had played ten matches since we last played Edenbridge on 6 February. Our opponents on the other hand have, I understand, hardly played since then and that may explain why they were so keen, sharp, eager and gave us, I felt, a harder test than in February. It was certainly hard to believe that they only had ten players in the first half. So did we for some of it, until Ian Coles joined us about twenty minutes after referee Mick Gearing had started the game bang on time at 6:45, after we had all pulled together to get ourselves and the goal nets ready.
The twelve slices in the Farnborough pizza today were: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard and Chris Bourlet in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit, Mark Perry, Robin Lipscomb and John Tallis in midfield; Pete Harvey and Colin Brazier up front. Roger French sportingly played for Edenbridge in the second half to even the slices – and fittingly for Roger, some might think, to be playing in black and blue.
We wanted to start on time to make the most of the light for 90 minutes, and for most of the first half there was almost too much light as the low bright sun shone straight into our eyes – and many a pass went astray because of that (allegedly). There was also some smoke drifting across the pitch from burning vegetation behind one of the goals, with a whiff of the sort of herbs that would be illegal on a pizza. The hard, bouncy pitch did not help either but it was the same for both teams.
It is fair to say we were initially surprised by the vigour, speed and technical standard of the Edenbridge play. They were fewer in number than when we played them at their place but they seemed to have gone for quality rather than quantity. We realised very quickly that we were in for a tough game, even against ten men. Still the early chances and greater share of the possession were ours.
Our first goal was scored by Robin Lipscomb with a downward header in the six-yard box, from a pin-point cross supplied by Mehmet Bozyigit on the right. We had chances to increase our lead but were denied by splendid saves from the Edenbridge keeper. Then, deservedly, Edenbridge drew level. They had been threatening to do this, and moments earlier had come close, and were denied only by a last-ditch tackle in the six yard box by Patrice Mongelard, with an empty net beckoning. Some loose passing in our midfield was seized upon, and the ball was quickly transferred up front, and we were caught a little unawares on our left side, could not recover the situation and the ball was rolled into our net.
For a while the game could have gone either way. But by then we had eleven players and I think our extra man counted as Mark Perry picked up a loose ball just outside the box, after Colin Brazier and Rob Lipscomb had penetrated the Edenbridge defence, seemed to take a long time to select his shot – before hitting a crisp right foot shot which the Edenbridge keeper could not keep out of the net. 2-1 became 3-1 about five minutes later when Rob Lipscomb played a delightfully weighted defence-splitting pass towards Pete Harvey who let it run across his body, thus beating his marker, and advanced into the box to hit a powerful shot with his cultured left foot into the bottom corner.
For once we did not have the players to make half-time changes, particularly as Roger French’s offer to play for Edenbridge was accepted. The second half was, if anything, a more even affair, with possession, number of chances and corners shared almost equally by both teams. Two good goals were scored – one by each team, not entirely dissimilar goals, but I think one was more intentional than the other.
We took a 4-1 lead about ten minutes into the second half, once again from Pete Harvey’s deadly left boot as he got behind Roger French, cut in, and looked up from about 25 yards out, thought to himself that he was going to curl the ball into the top corner above the keeper’s grasp – and delivered exactly that. To their enormous credit Edenbridge rallied and put us under pressure. Colin Brazier helpfully dropped back into the defence to allow an “injured” Chris Bourlet to go up front. Chris was the most smartly dressed man in Farnborough yesterday and provided evidence of the long arm of the law when he retrieved a ball from the roof of the dugout. It was his first full game in over a year and like most of us, would have been glad to hear the final whistle in the increasingly cold air after the sun had left Farrow Fields.
Before then, and fittingly, the last goal of the match was scored by Edenbridge – from 30 yards out wide on the right, when a deep cross (I think it was a cross) eluded Gary Fentiman to nestle inside the top corner of the Farnborough net.
All that remained after that was the usual post-match bustle and team work to remove and store the nets, wheel the goal posts back to their docking stations, pick up our bits and head for the lukewarm showers.
The winning Italian theme of last weekend was continued off the pitch this time, as Don Roger French made the offer of six XXL pizzas (equivalent to 72 slices) which we could not refuse. I think they came already sliced and there was no need for Roger to do any more slicing. As I munched contentedly on my 4th slice - I could not help reflect on what a splendid team effort had been delivered – from the ten Edenbridge players who made the long trip to play this game so sportingly, from the Farnborough backroom team – Vic Farrow for opening the club and doing the many small unseen and often unappreciated things that precede and follow games, Des Fallon who manned the bar and disposed of the empty pizza boxes, referee Mick Gearing, Paul Parsons and Nick Kinnear who came to watch their team mates and ended up running the line, and, of course, the pizza delivery man who was on time at 8:40.
Man of the match today – John Tallis, for a towering performance in midfield, and genuinely surprised to have been chosen by his team mates – who was rewarded, for one night only, with a position on the management team as assistant bookkeeper.
All in all this was a successful occasion enjoyed by all who took part, and further evidence that such games are worth organising, if possible.
Man of the match: John Tallis