Sunday 12th May 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets help themselves to 8-1 hollow triumph
Right until the delayed kick off it was far from clear if this game would be played. The making of an omni-shambles was only avoided by turning the match into an 8-a-side game and with Farnborough supplying 75% of the players. Carol Vorderman would be proud of you if you worked out that Old Colfeians turned up with four players only – but turn up they did, to their credit, and they had kept us in touch with their frantic efforts during the week to muster a side. We had our problems too with one late cancellation (Mick O’Flynn) and one no-show (Toby Manchip) and several injuries (Ian Shoebridge, John Tallis, Steve Blanchard), one cricket season casualty (Paul Bell – we suspect Old Colfeians had a few of those too) and one or two others not available for other reasons. Thankfully our Young Vets were at home too, playing a tough friendly, defending an unbeaten home record this year, and they were able to spare one player – Mark Friend, out of their fourteen, to join our motley crew. Frantic, desperate phone calls had failed to add to our number. I was not alone in thinking that this was perhaps a game too far and the season should have ended at the end of April. Mrs M. agrees.
When referee Rod Loe started the game – the Farnborough octet was Gary Fentiman in goal; Colin Brazier, Ian Coles and Scott Dowie in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Rob Lipscomb and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield and Andy Faulks sitting comfortably upfront. Patrice Mongelard, Roger French, Nick Waller and Mark Friend had swapped red and yellow stripes for green and white hoops. The petits French (Isabelle and Thomas), Master Dowie and Jane (Ian Coles’ partner), Ian Shoebridge and other Farnborough figures spectated on and off.
The suggestion to reduce the length of the pitch by rolling both sets of goal posts to the edge of the six-yard box was not well received so we ended up with a lot of space, or another way of looking at it, having to do a lot of running on a hard pitch. I am not sure we were that well-equipped for that type of game. Sorry - by we, I mean the hybrid side – which I will call the Farneians – for today’s purposes, and which provides my perspective for this report.
The Farneians had a more than useful keeper and for the first quarter of an hour or so we held our own, though without troubling Gary Fentiman. Gary had a very untroubled game, right until the final moments, and in a sense his own team probably caused him more trouble. The inevitable happened when Sinisa Gracanin produced two almost identical smart finishes after timing his runs into the box to slot two cut-backs home from close range, to put Farnborough 2-0 up. Surprisingly the score stayed that way until the half-time oranges shared by both teams. I cannot recall much by way of goal threat from the Farneians. We had one or two corners that failed to yield anything and the closest to a frisson for us came when Gary Fentiman appeared to fumble a ball on the line that had spun back off Ian Coles. From sixty yards away I suggested to the referee, with the benefit of my superior eyesight of course, that the ball had crossed the line, but the look he gave me suggested he had been to Specsavers.
The second half was a less even affair. For once the substitutions were an easy decision to make – i.e. there were none. Early in the half Andy Faulks missed a comfortable sitter. However, ten minutes in Scott Dowie cut in from right back and from twenty-five yards out curled his left foot round the ball, lofting it accurately beyond the Farneians keeper into the top corner. I think he meant it. Five minutes later Sinisa Gracanin was quickest to a loose ball in the box and placed his shot with the outside of his foot into the bottom corner to register an impressive hat-trick. Sinisa turned provider five minutes later to tee up a suspiciously offside Rob Lipscomb at the far post who tapped in and the goal stood.
I wondered if Rod Loe had that on his conscience when he was persuaded that Andy Faulks was offside as he scored a sixth goal for Farnborough. Andy – two goals short of forty for us this season (with another 40+ haul for his Saturday side) got over his disappointment fairly quickly soon after when he lashed an exquisite shot into the top corner from fifteen yards out. 6-0 became 7-0 as Rob Lipscomb poached another (iffy) goal in the six yard box after the keeper could only parry an Andy Faulks shot into his path. There was even time for Ian Coles to convert a Mehmet Bozyigit pass to make it 8-0. Ian’s unbridled celebration was a joy to behold – as he and Colin Brazier bumped puffed out chests - he does not score that often as Jane reminded us later. By then we were getting overrun with alarming regularity and I would not have been alone in wishing for the relief of the final whistle.
The game’s surprises were not over though as with almost the last kick of the game Roger French profited from someone else’s work by converting a ball that had fallen to him fortuitously after Gary Fentiman parried a rare shot from the Farneians. The football gods had not granted the prayer “Please don’t let Roger French score” much to the delight of the French male line as Thomas joined in the celebrations (even though technically you could say it was an own goal).
On the way back down from the pitch I paused in the sunshine with Mehmet Bozyigit to watch the final moments of our Young Vets game as they went down to a rare 1-0 defeat.
Our mood in the clubhouse was good – not least as we had rescued a game on a sunny Sunday morning, from a difficult set of circumstances, all the more unusual because Old Colfeians had around seventeen players when they beat us 7-1 in January. And as Nosher French pointed out during the game – our reduced numbers meant more food. I was very pleased to see that today’s fare included onion bhajis – I do not think the others noticed because I made rather short work of 75% of them (out of a pack of 4 – work it out says Carol).
Man of the match was Ian Coles, who had a very good game marking Roger French, and even found time to cross the halfway line to score – something which had been a long time coming according to Jane.
Man of the match: Ian Coles