Sunday 14th September 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Pressure of defenestration grows on management as Senior Vets slump deepens
My Kindle brought the sting of defeat in our first two matches to the fields of Bali where your match reporter was working on his tan, while the lads were getting browned off at Farrow Fields. Surely the return of the prodigal oldie of the squad would re-kindle our season. Little details off the field would be sorted out: i.e. valuables bag, water bottles, corner flags, half time oranges, match balls. Whether big details would be sorted out on the field was uncertain as we were still quite under strength. The three Farnborough Ss were configured like this:
Paul Scotter Ian Coles Steve Blanchard Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Ian Shoebridge Robin Lipscomb Jim Grimley
Andy Faulks Colin Mant
Substitute: Roger French.
Supporters: Isabelle and Thomas French, Louie Dwight, Rebecca Coles, Jane Martin, Pam Shoebridge, Vicky Tanner, Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Lyons, Mick O’Filth (aka O’Flynn), Obi Ugwumba and Michael Jr. Four of our walking wounded were there, and before the end of the match one of them would rise like Lazarus, in vain, to dig us out of trouble.
Once again our numbers were low due to an epidemic of injuries and absenteeism – a shortcoming we were to pay for later. As we warmed up in the balmy sunshine waiting for referee Mick Gearing to start proceedings I noticed that high netting had been erected behind one the goals at last. I wondered who would make first use of it. It turned out to be Roger French, with one of his trademark flicks.
The start was an even affair – both sides probing and seeking to move the ball around. We had more possession but did not do much with it. Generally defences were on top but there were early signs that Simon Thomas could travel in space, at pace, and cause the Cuaco defence some discomfort on our right.
The first clear sign of danger though was created by our opponents with a cross from their left which was met by a diving bullet header from their big unit up front which whistled a foot above the top corner of Gary’s goal. Our injury troubles worsened quite early in the game – Robin Lipscomb crumpled to the ground with a twisted knee in the middle of the pitch and was replaced briefly by Roger French. Robin came back on ten minutes later, unwisely as it turned out.
We opened the scoring after about twenty minutes when Simon Thomas cruised inside the Cuaco full back to latch on to a through ball, and advance on goal before poking the ball past the Cuaco keeper. This was no more than we deserved. We also deserved the Cuaco equaliser which was not long in coming – our lead lasted barely five minutes. A Farnborough move broke down as Rob Lipscomb crumpled to the ground for a second and final time; and it looked like some of our players stood still expecting the referee to halt play. That is the only way I can explain the ease with which the burly Cuaco forward strolled through the middle of our defence to collect a through ball and slide the ball under Gary.
Before the first half ended Cuaco were to score a second after we took too long to clear the ball on the edge of our box – the ball was hooked back in over the defence, to a Cuaco forward who was ruled onside by the Farnborough linesman and we were behind. Yet that is not the full story of the first half – we had three or four good half chances to score again. The best opportunities came from set pieces. If Simon Thomas could travel back in time he would surely do better with the point blank header in the middle of the goal from a corner that he contrived to miss. Ian Shoebridge was an inch away from converting a Patrice Mongelard free kick. Andy Faulks – yet to fire in open play this season, lacked his usual sharpness and was tentative in good positions.
At half time we felt we were not out of it at 2-1 down. We had enjoyed 60-40 possession, and created more half chances than our opponents who had been better organised and more clinical when rare opportunities had come their way. Tellingly though we had no substitutions to make whereas Cuaco did and some of their changes caught the eye.
We were to rue our numerical inferiority even more early in the second half when Roger French was injured by a selfie and hobbled off to join our sick bay on the touch lines. Despite this setback we did not feel we were out of it. More of the game was being played in the Cuaco half but it was all foreplay – neither Andy Faulks nor Colin Mant could penetrate. We were now more stretched and Cuaco threatened once or twice to overrun us but we somehow managed to keep out of trouble. In fact things perked up when one of our walking wounded Mick O’Flynn answered the call and came on to bring some order and composure to the centre of our midfield.
With a quarter of an hour to go composure was certainly lacking when Patrice Mongelard gave away a penalty. His tired and late agricultural tackle – which filled Roger French with admiration, had scythed down the quick Cuaco right winger after one too many twists and turns in the box. I cannot take issue with referee Mick Gearing about his decision – this was not the dodgy penalty he awarded to our opponents in our first match, allegedly. I have always seen such tackles punished with a penalty, and sometimes a red card. Thankfully Gary was equal to the shot. Five minutes after the same winger crumpled in the box, with Patrice Mongelard close by, but tantric Mick must have felt he had reached his penalty quota for the season.
This was our first defeat to Cuaco. They deserved the points and the better team won.
The copious buffet lunch served up by Pam Shoebridge and Jane Martin reminded me of my most recent buffet performance, a week ago at breakfast on holiday. Tucking into my second plate of fried noodles I said to a disapproving Mrs M “Well it is paid for, might as well go the whole hog” – only to be reminded “You are the whole hog”. Our own Lord of the buffet – the much-maligned Nick Waller, absent today like many others, will appreciate that perceptive remark. Still my buffet excesses must have been forgiven as I returned home to the smell of apple and cranberry turnovers in the oven - made a change from being turned over.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge