Sunday 12th October 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets get no satisfaction from Inter Vyagra in limp draw
This is a fixture we all look forward to given the setting, the quality and conduct of the opposition, and their hospitality. It is certainly one of my favourite games to report on, from a linguistic point of view.
We were without our two main artificers – Andy Faulks and George Kleanthous but we hoped we would not be firing blanks at the barracks as we had the SAS with us – Simon Thomas was back and he had brought along Stephane Anelli to play a part. Colin Brazier too was a welcome sight, back from a long absence which included a trip to the Antipodes. A very nice touch from the opposition was to put individual water bottles in our changing room. They must have read about our difficulty in sourcing water bottles. Their hospitality even extended to a bag of quartered oranges.
This is how our blue-coated troops were arranged in front of architect James Wyatt’s 200-year old Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich.
Patrice Mongelard Steve Blanchard Ian Coles Colin Brazier
Simon Thomas Jim Grimley Nick Waller Waine Hetherington
Colin Mant Ian Shoebridge
Substitute: Roger French and Stephane Anelli.
Supporters: Isabelle and Thomas French.
We had cause to feel pleased with our first half display even though we felt we had done enough to go beyond the slender advantage of one goal. We attacked down both flanks, dominated the centre of midfield, with Nick Waller and Jim Grimley, and coped well with the rare breaks Inter Vyagra mounted. Yet, for all our expert foreplay the penetration was lacking and the final consummation of good moves never came.
Inter Vyagra caused the first frisson with a good twenty-yard free kick which Gary tipped away acrobatically. I think that was his only serious scare of the first half. The first clear opportunity for Farnborough was fashioned by Patrice Mongelard as he put a low ball deep across the Inter Vyagra box – to the far post where Colin Mant arrived as if on a zimmer frame to muff the moment. Ian Shoebridge was doing a lot of good work in and around the Inter Vyagra box and we had some shots from distance from Waine Hetherington and Jim Grimley that confirmed the degree of control we had.
The introduction of Stephane Anelli midway through the half, to replace Simon Thomas, galvanised us – his injection of youth, pace and twinkle toes, gave us fresh energy and he came close himself with the Inter Vyagra keeper pulling off a point blank save after Stephane had weaved his way into a shooting position from only three yards out.
The deadlock was broken when Patrice Mongelard threaded a ball through the Inter Vyagra defence for Stephane to run on to. He squared the ball unselfishly to Ian Shoebridge and Ian tucked the ball away to take the lead in the golden boot stakes. This had been coming but it had taken its time and we could not do it for a second time before half time.
At half time Roger French came on and Simon Thomas returned. Jim Grimley had groin trouble before the game and Inter Vyagra did not help, and he went off, to watch the second half from a horizontal position on the sidelines. Waine Hetherington too went off, to run the line and keep one eye on the group being put through their paces by a personal trainer nearby. He later reported that one of them gasped as she witnessed Roger French going in.
Indeed Roger got stuck in. One of his tackles, punished by a dangerous free kick on the edge of our box, got the ball (as Norman Hunter would say). But to the neutral it looked like this: imagine a ball in a box, inside a cupboard, on a sofa. The only way Roger got the ball was by upending the sofa. Still no harm was done and the whole game was played in an excellent spirit as they usually are between our two sides. Roger would have been disappointed with the Inter Vyagra equaliser which came within ten minutes of the re-start.
We attempted some passes deep in defence and the move broke down at the point where Roger was – the ball was recycled quickly by Inter Vyagra’s two very lively forwards, and a low well-placed shot from twelve yards which eluded Gary’s long arms was the climax. Roger’s frustration, brought on by a lack of control, ball control that is, saw him boot the ball fifty yards into touch.
We looked like a spent force in the second half. The connectivity in our game had gone. We felt like we had less time and space on the ball. Our play got disjointed and the chances we created can be counted on one hand. The best of our chances was fashioned by Colin Brazier, thrusting forward into the Inter Vyagra box coming through two challenges including the keeper’s, but then going down under no apparent challenge, with the goal seemingly at his mercy. There was a header from Nick Waller that went close and a good shot from distance from Ian Shoebridge which the keeper did well to hold on to. There was a shot from Colin Mant that was very far from close – and no trouble to the Inter Vyagra keeper, the connection was good, powerful even, but the shot was aimed at the corner flag. At the other end the nippy Inter Vyagra forwards kept us on our toes but we managed to hold out.
Midway through the half the children’s refuge that is the French tent was seen running away from Isabelle French who made half-hearted attempts to retrieve it. It lacked a stiff tent pole and had broken its moorings. We wondered if Thomas French was inside it pedalling like a furious hamster. Roger’s words had no effect on Isabelle so I ordered her to do it. It is years since I acted tough with a young girl called Isabelle. Anyway it had the desired effect. We’ve had French tent trouble in the past in games with Inter Vyagra but this time all went well.
In the end a draw was a fair result. We had the first half, Inter Vyagra had the second. The rain held off, the showers were good, the referee even better and the bar had a cosy atmosphere. I am not sure who won the battle of the buffet as chip butties, sausages and chicken nuggets were hit for six, in the cricket pavilion, even though we had buffet general Nick Waller on our side.
Man of the match: even that was a draw – Nick Waller and Ian Shoebridge.
Man of the match: Nick Waller and Ian Shoebridge