Tuesday 1st May 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Mayday. Mayday. Senior Vets go down 4-1 to Buff Vets. Sabotage suspected.
After the rather surreal experience of looking out for weather reports in May word came through at midday that this game was on. After the disappointment of last Sunday’s defeat to water in what must surely be the wettest drought on record – there was a spring in our step as we took to the field in bright, dry and sunlit conditions for the first in our series of end of season midweek friendlies. Call it revenge against the rain gods. Whether this would also be revenge against the Buff for the third time of asking this season was yet to be determined.
The Farnborough May Day parade consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal; Mick O’Flynn, Colin Brazier, Patrice Mongelard and Paul Bailey in defence; George Kleanthous, Chris Pereira, Rob Lipscomb and Chris Webb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Pete Harvey in attack. Roger French and Rowan Foggitt appeared midway through the first half to complete our outfit.
Referee Mick Gearing started the game at 6:30 on the dot as Pete Harvey (our captain du jour) won the toss and put the bright sun in the eyes of the Buff keeper. Yet it was our keeper Gary Fentiman who was dazzled by a brilliant free kick from Barry Grainger about ten minutes into the game that crept in the top corner after Patrice Mongelard conceded a free kick which the referee adjudged to have been outside the box. To be honest it could have been a penalty. After this early set back we matched the Buff and felt it was only a matter of time before we’d get a goal back. Pete Harvey, George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks had decent half chances which we failed to convert. The second Buff goal about twenty minutes into the match was a tad fortuitous as Colin Brazier unluckily failed to cut out a through ball that rolled over the top of his foot and was converted via the inside of the post from close range. We felt hard done by. Rowan Foggitt came on soon after that (for a tiring Chris Pereira playing his first game in over a year) and immediately posed a threat with his abundant pace, intelligent running and poise. Both sides were fairly evenly matched for the rest of the half. Patrice Mongelard had his brightest moment of the game with an interception on the edge of his box, a lofted angled pass to the waiting Pete Harvey on the left wing and a run to the edge of the Buff box which culminated in a low shot that the Buff keeper could not gather first time but as no one was following in, it all came to nothing. It all went downhill for Patrice after that – more on that later.
Even at two goals down at half time we felt that we could recover the situation and only needed to convert the first of the many chances we could create. Apart from the two goals Gary Fentiman had a relatively quiet first half. Rob Lipscomb made way for Roger French at half time, and Chris Webb dropped back into the centre of the defence allowing Paul Bailey to push up into midfield. Our weapon of choice remained the through ball behind the Buff defence to either Pete Harvey or Andy Faulks who had the beating of the Buff defence for pace. Unfortunately they were too quick too many times for the Buff linesman who kept raising his flag for offside, much to the annoyance, thespian at times, of Pete Harvey. That is how we ended up having two goals disallowed and mounting frustration from our players. Mick Gearing did his best to keep things calm and fair, even Roger kept his cool, almost, cheered up a little by a long range cross that came off the Buff bar (having forced the keeper into pushing it onto the bar it must be said - Ed).
At the other end we had things under control or so we thought until Patrice Mongelard intervened to undermine his own team. First he broke a cardinal rule of defending by rolling an under-hit pass across his penalty area which was intercepted and slotted in to give the Buff a three goal advantage. It is not an excuse that there had been no outlet on the right of the defence – where it was rumoured Roger French had moved, although I saw no evidence of this. Mick O’Flynn had departed midway through the second half to make way for Rob Lipscomb and this seemed to unbalance the team. Mick came back on later for George Kleanthous who is regaining his fitness and getting into good positions and is lacking only the finish he is capable of. In the midst of this period of uncertainty Patrice Mongelard then scored a delightful own goal, with a crisp left foot finish that left Gary Fentiman powerless as an attempt to cut out a through ball turned disastrous. 4-0 felt harsh indeed not least in view of the chances we were creating at the other end. It was scant reward when Rowan Foggitt got the better of an exhausted linesman with the overworked flag lifting arm to run through and finish coolly from close range.
And that was it. You could say without exaggeration that Patrice Mongelard was the difference between the two sides today. He gave away a free kick from which the first Buff goal was scored, assisted their third goal with some diabolical defending and crowned it all with an own goal of no little quality. I was not exactly overwhelmed by sympathy from my team mates who thought it only fair that I should sweep the home and away dressing rooms, take the kit and have only a small number of pizza slices out of the 96 slices that made up the 8 XXL pizzas ordered by Roger French (two each of Pepperoni Plus, Hawaiian Special, All the Meats, Margherita) on buy-one-get-one-free night. The Buff certainly got something for free tonight. Oh and to cap it all my team Liverpool lost to an own goal. I hesitate to say it never rains but it pours as I had one of those games that induce serious thoughts of retirement at my advanced age.
Thanks to referee Mick Gearing (who seems unable to distinguish a chest area from an arm, or to consider the possibility (postulated by Gary Fentiman) that a yellow-clad Buff keeper (like the Farnborough players) was probably confusing the Buff linesman); Vic Farrow for his usual support (and huge appetite); and Ian Couchman for pulling the pints (and commenting admiringly on my technique for my own goal).
Despite this defeat all would agree that these evening fixtures are a good thing and long may Roger French and the club continue to organise them. We must also thank the ground staff for a pitch that played very well after the biblical rain we have had. We have asked nicely if the grass could be cut for next Sunday.
Well – now you know we’ll have to wait until next season to see if we can knock the Buff off their perch. This coming Sunday we aim to see if Riverside can play as well on planet flat earth. This will be our 32nd game this season and our victories tally could reach double figures if we were to win.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman – for the second consecutive game even though he could not stop a rather clinical finish from you know who.
O my team, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and
I detest all my errors because of Thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my team,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my assists.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to OG no more and to avoid the near occasions of poor defending.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman