Sunday 8th January 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets short of resolution in new year 3-2 defeat to Old Colfeians
After a three week lay-off there was much appetite for this game – with seventeen players initially available (despite the absence of Colin Brazier and Sinisa Gracanin). Seventeen became fifteen overnight as Darren Burkett and Toby Manchip dropped out. I cannot confirm the identity of the alligator spinning a web of allegations that Toby Manchip had been transferred to another club for a bag of crisps as soon as the transfer window opened.
We were up against new opponents for the first time – in Old Colfeians, and I could not help notice the strong rugby culture at their ground. In fact there was only one football pitch amongst several rugby pitches which were all in use. I let go some quips about my shooting being more suited to the egg-chasers’ posts.
The Farnborough XV were Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Danny Winter, Steve Blanchard and Ian Coles in defence; John Tallis, Chris Webb, Paul Smith and Robin Lipscomb in midfield; Ian Shoebridge and Andy Faulks in attack. Roger French, Mick O’Flynn, Paul Bell and Nick Waller waited to come on at half time.
When the game started we were not the quickest off the blocks. It felt like it was a good ten minutes before we made our presence felt. There was a rustiness in our play that did not seem to have corroded our opponents. Their style of play was quickly evident – pressing hard and going for what they called the second ball (perhaps a bit like rugby players), and with energy and not a little craft down the flanks and in midfield. Their defence was rugged and effective.
The first goal, after 15 minutes, was a combination of Farnborough sloppiness and good finishing by our opponents. The ball was recycled quickly out of their penalty area, we got tangled in midfield and missed the opportunity to reclaim the ball. It found its way down the exposed right side of the defence, was crossed in low, not intercepted and propelled beyond Gary into our net from six yards out. This woke us up – the next twenty five minutes were ours and many chances were created but not all converted. Chris Webb hit the crossbar with a pile driver, Andy Faulks, Paul Smith, Ian Shoebridge and Patrice Mongelard had shots that on another day might have brought dividends.
We fashioned an equaliser when Patrice Mongelard lofted a free kick to John Tallis who had glided into space in the Old Colfeians box, and who chested the ball back to Ian Shoebridge to shoot from the edge of the box. The shot had more spin that Ian intended but it could not be gathered cleanly by the Old Colfeians keeper and Andy Faulks was able to find the net from a narrow angle. This should have been the springboard for us to push on and get to half time with an advantage. Instead we were stung by Old Colfeians, tenacious in midfield, played onside by an errant Farnborough defender, and the ball was lofted into our net from three yards out. This felt very much against the run of play. We had a very good opportunity to draw level when John Tallis found himself unmarked, three yards out, at the end of an exquisite cross from Robin Lipscomb. John’s attempted volley had much artistic merit but drifted wide. We’ll never know if he had time to bring the ball down – the thought nagged at him too he confided later.
The anticipated changes were made at half time as Mick O’Flynn, Roger French, Nick Waller and Paul Bell came on for Ian Coles, Rob Lipscomb, Paul Smith and John Tallis. It is fair to say that our opponents got used more quickly to these changes than we did and took control of the midfield. The absence of John Tallis which had been the glue that held our midfield together and Chris Webb, now in the centre of our defence in lieu of Ian Coles who had to leave early, meant that we struggled to get a grip on the game in the key midfield area where Nick Waller and Ian Shoebridge had quite a tough job with very little time on the ball, and the defence had to work hard to keep Old Colfeians at bay. We were limited to playing on the break – and Paul Bell in particular was providing a good outlet on the right but on the whole we lacked a cutting edge and our presence in the box was occasional and not entirely consequential.
Yet in spite of this we were able to draw level about fifteen minutes into the second half. Paul Bell made what is now termed a key contribution to it, but his role in it was not quite clear cut. However, the dubious goals committee met after the game to award him our equaliser as he hooked the ball back toward goal from the right and the defender was not able to clear it. Roger French was in the vicinity, but did not claim a part in the goal, which to be fair had an element of good fortune to it.
Our joy at drawing level did not last long. The pressure on our goal had been building. Ten minutes after we equalised a Gary Fentiman clearance did not go as far as intended and he found himself out of position as probably the most skilful player on show, in the Old Colfeians midfield picked the ball up and let fly from thirty yards out. The ball took a slight deflection off Chris Webb’s boot before nesting into the bottom corner of the net beyond Gary’s despairing dive.
And that was it. We huffed and puffed a bit more. Danny Winter went off as he too had to leave before the end and Ian Shoebridge went off exhausted, as Robin Lipscomb and John Tallis returned but it was too late for us to salvage anything from the game. Nick Waller drew a smart save from the Old Colfeians keeper but this was not as good as the pair of saves that Gary made flying high to his right and low to his left to keep good goal-bound shots out. These saves had a lot to do with Gary winning our man of the match award (with Chris Webb not far behind).
After the game we had what were the best showers we have had this season – though Andy Faulks resisted the temptation.
We should record special thanks for the referee today, Mick Gearing, for once doing a game away from Farrow Fields, who officiated with his customary economy and no nonsense style. When asked in the final stages of the match, by a stressed Old Colfeians player, if he was going to play on until Farnborough equalised he enquired as to the whereabouts of the player’s timepiece.
We sat in the large bar afterwards ruefully reflecting on opportunities missed against worthy opponents. Unfortunately we were not able to discuss the game with them as none of the Old Colfeians football players were to be seen in the bar. Perhaps the bar is for rugby players only.
Next week we welcome Inter-Vyagra at our ground – just the right tonic we need for our flagging form, perhaps.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman