Sunday 3rd November 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Tensions boil over as Farnborough put up a fight to earn draw
Two weeks ago we were hammered 5-0 by the same opponents and our performance was even worse than the result. Today we were determined to put things right. We even shrugged off the loss of two players overnight, including a goal keeper. However, today’s match will be less remembered for the football.
The starting XI were Toby Manchip in goal; Ian Coles, Colin Brazier, Mick O’Flynn and Steve Blanchard in defence; Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Obi Ugwumba, Sinisa Gracanin and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Andy Faulks in attack. Roger French and “Denzel” Washington made up the XIII. Michael had brought his three fans, Roger his pair, Isabelle and Thomas, and later towards the fractious and premature end three Webbs and two more Manchips appeared.
The Farnborough brains trust had come up with the idea of playing five in midfield, with Patrice Mongelard as the holding midfielder. The other welcome surprise was the appearance of self-appointed overall club captain Toby Manchip, tanned, trim, taking one for the team by responding to a Saturday night SOS to play in goal. He must have been hoping for the call as he had a new pair of gloves ready.
If Wickham Park had been expecting another stroll in the park, and on their turf, we quickly put that notion out of their head. We were tighter, better organised, more resilient and combative. Our wide midfielders Ian Shoebridge and Obi Ugwumba gave good support and used the ball well to create dangerous situations for Andy Faulks. At the back we plugged gaps, covered for each other and competed. The centre held with Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Mant and Patrice Mongelard tackling and covering and taking care of the ball. We had the temerity to take the lead after about twenty minutes after good work by Ian Shoebridge to harry and dispossess a dallying Wickham Park defender in a dangerous area. He played the ball to Andy Faulks who looked up, let fly and the ball curled and looped into the net. Our rhythm was disturbed on the half hour when Mick O’Flynn had to come off injured. He was to play no further part on the pitch, but was needed later on, off the pitch. ‘Denzel’ came on to replace him, taking over the holding midfielder role from Patrice Mongelard who moved to right back. We continued to threaten the Wickham Park goal with long diagonal balls and deep free kicks but were not able to add to our score.
At the other end the Wickham pressure grew as they sought to make the most of the considerable slope. They forced a number of corners – from one of which Patrice Mongelard cleared off the line. They hit the bar and pressed us hard. We had lost some of our initial shape and tightness. They equalised with a well-taken goal after one of their nippy midfielders arrived on the edge of our box to pick a cut back from the wing and steered the ball, low beyond Toby’s reach.
Our mood at half time was very positive. Roger French came on for Andy Faulks who was carrying a bit of a knock. It is difficult to say if Roger’s arrival was a catalyst of sorts but gradually an edge crept into the game as we continued to frustrate Wickham Park. They hit the bar again and it is fair to say they had more of a goal threat than we did though Toby was equal to their efforts. Ian Shoebridge went off having picked up a knock and Andy Faulks, though not quite a 100% came back on in an unaccustomed left midfield role, and before the game’s premature climax Andy was to try another position.
Midway through the second half and it is fair to say a bit against the run of play we had the audacity to take the lead again. Our second goal was a collector’s item. A Farnborough cross ball from Sinisa Gracanin had been allowed to run by Roger French to the edge of the West Wickham box, This tempted the Wickham Park keeper off his line and he ventured out of the box, and attempted to play the ball out. The move broke down and Colin Brazier who intercepted the ball, looked up saw the keeper stranded and rolled the ball into the net from forty yards out, with his right foot which is only used for ambulation and posture normally. It was a joy to watch the Wickham Park covering defender fall short. This was a fitting reward for a player who was making his 600th appearance in Farnborough colours today. Five minutes later he burst forward as if making his 6th appearance for Farnborough and only the yard of pace of the covering defender denied him.
By then with about twenty minutes left things were getting tense on the pitch and a darker mood began to pervade the game. Denzel was taken roughly from behind and clumped “accidentally”. The heated afters saw two players sent off – our own Roger French, and a Wickham Park player. Unwisely they both ended up on the same touchline, fifteen yards apart. In the midst of this we had to make one further change as Toby Manchip dislocated a finger and Andy Faulks went in goal after an absence of twenty years. We thought we could hang on but with eight minutes or so left Wickham Park equalised and that is how the game ended.
It is not often, in fact I cannot remember ever doing it, that we walk away from food after a game. We understand that Wickham Park had laid food on but events on and off the pitch had left a bad taste in the mouth and we went back to our club to celebrate Colin Brazier’s 600th game for Farnborough – a much more pleasant memory of the game.
Man of the match today –Steve Blanchard – though this was a great team performance.
Our solidarity and temperament will be further tested against Belvedere next week when we will seek to put another heavy defeat out of our minds on remembrance Sunday. We could have done with the armistice spirit a week early.
Man of the match: Steve Blanchard