Sunday 4th May 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Quality beats quantity
To make our overseas player, Eric Johnson, feel at home - today in glorious spring sunshine, we mustered numbers more suited to American football – eighteen players, but without the specialist skills that go with it. We could have had yet more, if Mick O’Flynn and Steve Blanchard, two supreme jokers who threatened to add to our number, had turned up.
Our opponents however had the bare XI – unlike when we played them at their place two weeks ago on a very wet Easter Sunday. That, as well as the weather, was not the only difference since this last and recent encounter. Then we fought for a well-earned draw, today we were not good enough even for that, and got what we deserved.
In effect we put two different teams out in each half. In the first half we lined up like this:
Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Ian Lyons, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Mant and Waine Hetherington in midfield; George Kleanthous and Ian Shoebridge in attack. We made one adjustment to this line-up after half an hour when Rob Lipscomb went off injured to be replaced by Mehmet Bozyigit (who was probably carrying an injury himself).
In the second half we had Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Ian Lyons, Roger French and Denzel Washington in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit, Nick Waller, Obi Ugwumba and Colin Brazier in midfield; Eric Johnson and Andy Faulks in attack. This team sheet was tweaked later on when Sinisa Gracanin and Waine Hetherington replaced Colin Brazier and Ian Coles. I’ll spare you the positional changes that these adjustments required.
Once again we had a good number of fans and well-wishers: Thomas and Isabelle French, comme toujours, Rebecca Coles and cousin Jodie, Jane Martin, Vicky Tanner and Nathan Johnson. Even Pam Shoebridge strolled up to watch her boys for a bit. Also watching his boys and dispensing copious tactical advice, was self-appointed club captain, Toby Manchip, sporting, inexplicably, a Farnborough sweatshirt with the initials CP (captain ? or perhaps something else – answers on a post card please, and keep it clean) (Try Clown Prince but not so sure about BD on his rain jacket. Perhaps it it that friend of Pontius Pilate that lives in Wome and has a wife called Incontinentia Buttocks - Ed). You could say Toby was our non-playing captain as he tossed for ends with referee Mick Gearing (to whom I explained the joy of tantric refereeing before kick-off).
What can I tell you about the football? I played the first half only, and watched the first and last ten minutes of the second half. I saw Riverside score their two goals in my extracts of that second half – both fairly similar efforts with Gary Fentiman having parried the initial efforts, but the more alert and hungrier Riverside attackers scoring from close range in a crowded area. This was a tight affair and the first goal was always going to make a difference. The second was a matter of time but did not come until near the end of the game. I was told, having slipped away for a solitary shower, that we did not create much between the two Riverside goals. Indeed it was reported that the Farnborough player who came closest to scoring an equaliser in the second half, Colin Brazier, had come off before Riverside got their second. Colin, like Nick Waller, was right to invest in new, and possibly identical, boots.
We were not at our best, we lacked cutting edge and defended for longer periods than we wanted. There were very few clear chances for either team in the first half. I recall a decent passing move which put Waine Hetherington through for a shot on goal but the Riverside keeper was a sharper specimen than we are used to – good positioning, quick off his line, good hands, youthful. George Kleanthous was finding the robust Riverside central defence difficult to get round and we never really got behind them. Their muscular presence was a challenge for Rob Lipscomb too. We had probably more of the ball and strung more passes together but Riverside had the more direct style of play and seemed able to get numbers up in our box faster than we could do the same to them. You could say that both defences were on top in that half. The seven changes we made at half time put us on the back foot understandably. The pattern of play though was not much different. However, Riverside wanted to win the game more than we did. We matched them in most areas but could not find a way round or through the river bus they parked in front of goal. This was our first defeat in since 2 March – eight matches ago, and only the third time this season – in twenty-nine matches that we have failed to score.
What can I tell you about the après-match - very little as I was not there. I am sure Pam Shoebridge and Jane Martin returned the splendid hospitality our visitors usually extend to us at their place, and that the “James Dyson of the buffet area” Nick Waller stood in for me admirably. If I close my eyes, and ears, I can almost hear Toby Manchip’s coruscating analysis and trenchant views on the management.
Next week – we play our cousins the Farnborough Young Vets, to celebrate the vibrancy of Vets football at Farrow Fields. This traditionally used to be the last game of the season for both teams. It will be for the Young Ones but for the Old Ones, and in a World Cup year, Roger French has prolonged our season to 25 May to make up for the winter floods. By the way, the Young Vets limbered up for next week with a 7-0 win on the adjoining pitch. I saw several of their goals go in. I was naturally pleased for them but wish I had not witnessed such incision and clinical efficiency, given the blunt display on the other pitch.
Next week the management will also make a number of awards as a thank you not only to some of our players, but also to the support team that contribute much to the Farnborough Senior Vets experience. Acceptance speeches will be heard for the Managers Player of the Season; Golden Boot; Goal of the Season; Dot Cotton Award; Catering Award, Referee Award and Supporters’ Award. This prestigious occasion will also be marked by a two-hour speech from Roger “Fidel” French – I jest of course, but not entirely.
Man of the match: Ian Coles.
Man of the match: |an Coles