Sunday 25th January 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough on top in tight affair
This week we were back in almost the same postcode, where we would have played last week, at the Croydon Postal Sports Ground in Trenham Drive, in Warlingham. A week on, and two hundred yards away as the crow flies, we now had a completely different and much better playing surface, on a cold, crisp, dry but overcast morning. We had some changes to our squad too. Sixteen players had dwindled to fourteen overnight. Two notable absentees were Andy Faulks, our top marksman unavailable because of a bit of moving in and out, and Gary Fentiman, our goalkeeper, who had injured his back when he fell off the sofa as the Chelsea score came in. The players who stood in for them were excellent – we never missed Gary and Andy. Waine Hetherington, hat-trick hero last week, went in goal; Barry Grainger (from our Young Vets whose game at Farrow Fields was off – and an over-45) put his lethal left peg at our service, a most welcome addition particularly as our other marksman George Kleanthous was missing too, having gone somewhere even colder in search of the white stuff.
Patrice Mongelard Steve Blanchard Ian Coles Colin Brazier;
Simon Thomas Obi Ugwumba Sinisa Gracanin Ian Shoebridge;
Barry Grainger Colin Mant.
Substitutes: Roger French, Nick Waller, Paul Scotter.
Supporter: Isabelle & Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jr
It was clear early doors that this game would be hard. We had the edge in terms of momentum and the direction of play; however Glendale had a lot of quality in their team, particularly in midfield with two or three very technical players adept at finding time and space and not slow to run at us with the ball, overdoing it a bit at times. The Glendale keeper was immense and equal to what we threw at him. Early chances fell to Colin Mant, twice, not for nothing called a faux forward, and we also had Barry’s artillery firing howitzers at the Glendale man mountain who was very good with his hands and feet. We had a degree of control in the first half hour that we never quite regained in the game. We passed the ball more, and in truth Waine had relatively little to do in our goal.
Steve Blanchard had a free header from a Barry Grainger corner that he failed to connect with properly arriving late at the back post, but we did take the lead after thirty minutes or so. Simon Thomas, our tallest player took advice and left corners to Barry’s cultured left foot and was at the end of one such delivery to head the ball from two yards out. The Glendale keeper kept the effort out but Simon had wisely followed through and poked the ball home from short range. Before the restart we took the opportunity to make our first three changes, Patrice Mongelard, Ian Shoebridge and Colin Mant making way for Roger French, Paul Scotter and Nick Waller. Barry Grainger dropped deep, and Glendale began to attack us more as we lost momentum. We played on the break down the left in particular where Colin Brazier was prominent and in one such exhilarating move he nearly went all the way to the Glendale goal. Waine was called upon to make two good saves to preserve our advantage to half-time.
When the second half started we were a bit more organised and compact – with Sinisa Gracanin and Michel Ugwumba nullifying the Glendale threat in midfield, but without creating much ourselves except for Barry’s fizzers and corners. On the hour Patrice Mongelard, Ian Shoebridge and Colin Mant came back on for Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba and Steve Blanchard. Ten minutes later we had the cushion of a two-goal lead as Ian Shoebridge threaded the ball to Barry Grainger who had taken an intelligent unmarked position on the left. Barry controlled the ball with a deft touch, advanced into the box, shrugged off the covering defender (who was quick but not quick enough) and rifled an unstoppable shot into the top corner. We had threatened a goal like that as Glendale, looking for an equaliser, left spaces at the back and we just needed the right pass to Barry and let him do what he does best.
With a quarter of an hour left Roger French departed the scene and Simon Thomas returned to give us more of a threat on the break and give Glendale something to think about. Despite going two goals down Glendale heads did not drop and with ten minutes left it was a Glendale head that got to a mishit cross to guide the ball past Waine to set up an exciting finale. The last ten minutes or so were frantic. It was not quite the Alamo but we had to dig deep and find some of the spirit that got us through last week. One tackle from Patrice Mongelard to stop a Glendale player from breaking through our lines was as tasty as they come. In fact, I'll probably be a tad late for work tomorrow as I expect I'll be quite stiff in the morning. Ian Coles, Colin Brazier and Paul Scotter were also hard and the midfield dropped back to help us as Glendale forced several corners, a couple of which were dealt with nonchalantly by Waine. Glendale pressed us hard and left themselves vulnerable to our counter-attacks but we could never find the right through ball. As the final whistle went a win for us by the narrowest of margins felt right, but our relief would have been almost as great as Glendale’s disappointment.
The buffet came and went quickly – cheese and tomato sandwiches, ham sandwiches, mini pork pies, crisps and nuts. Buffet Terminator Nick Waller arrived just in time to have the last sandwich and the last nut too. He said he would be back – at the Bricklayer’s Arms for a decent lunch, on the way home. He still had a wafer-thin cheese string from Thomas French’s lunchbox as Papa French, a Buffet Predator of note himself, equally ravenous, tucked in – wrap, ham and cheese were wolfed down. Thomas and Isabelle French watched Terminator and Predator slug it out, from the cold outside the clubhouse with their faces pressed against the glass. The scene was almost Dickensian in its pathos.
The game was played in excellent spirit, refereed most fairly by two Glendale players in turn. The only discordant brief moment came when a Glendale player took exception to the score Paul Scotter gave him for artistic merit when he dived in the box under an innocuous challenge.
Next week we are on the road again before we have a run of five home games. We dedicate today’s victory, and last week’s, to the rain (and snow) gods so they can spare Farrow Fields.
Man of the match: Waine Hetherington, in a completely different position this week, but still on top, and with the same mark of quality.
Man of the match: Waine Hetherington