Sunday 1st February 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough have only themselves to blame for lacklustre performance
Our unbeaten run in 2015 lasted one month only. This statement fails to capture the full sense of our disappointment today, particularly after our last two performances. I hesitate to say today’s opponents, Diamond Vets, were poorer than Baltic or Glendale. The figures do not lie after all. We were complacent, made elementary mistakes, played without hunger until it was too late, and were rightly punished. We failed to sparkle against Diamond and lost our shine.
There were sixteen of us on a cold, blustery overcast morning sharing what must be the smallest amount of space per player in any of the changing rooms we frequent. That is not because of the size of the players (though that does not help) but because of the size of the facilities that Bexley Council deemed adequate to support three full size adult football pitches (all in use today) at the King George’s Recreation Ground in Sidcup.
Once again we were without regular keeper Gary Fentiman still nursing an injury so Waine Hetherington took up the No 1 slot for the team again.
Paul Scotter, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Colin Brazier;
Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba, Nick Waller, Ian Shoebridge;
Andy Faulks, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Roger French, Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Ian Lyons.
Supporters: Louie Dwight, Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jr, Chris Webb.
We started sluggishly and timidly. Our opponents will not have seen much to trouble them in the early stages. We had more possession but did little with it. Fluency, energy and drive were all missing from our game. The pitch was heavy which did not help the pace of the game. Both defences were generally on top. Scoring chances were few and far between.
The Diamond keeper was a little gem, not the tallest but quick, alert, with good hands (and much youth on his side). There were some robust defenders in front of him and we found it difficult to create any decent scoring opportunities.
Ian Shoebridge came closest with a deep cross after some good work on the left that was headed off the line with the keeper beaten. Then came the miss of the game – George Kleanthous broke through on the right, entered the box, and squared the ball for Andy Faulks unmarked three yards out with the goal seemingly at his mercy, with the Diamond keeper lured out of position. The normally assured Andy was casual in his approach and his shot sailed over the bar, almost catching the 10:45 to Cannon Street from Sidcup.
Football being a cruel game, barely five minutes later a quick Diamond break and cross into our box saw Waine beaten by a towering forward who got to the ball first and nodded it into our net. This was against the run of play. We huffed and puffed to no effect. Diamond took heart from their goal and set about defending their lead. Our first raft of changes on the half hour – with Paul Scotter, Steve Blanchard, Simon Thomas and Ian Shoebridge making way for Patrice Mongelard, Ian Lyons, Sinisa Gracanin and Colin Mant did not improve our fortunes. Colin Mant came closest to scoring but the keeper smothered the shot. Nick Waller turned neatly on a banana skin in the Diamond box but could not unload.
We were frustrated at half time but hoped for better things. Roger French came on for Andy Faulks despite a heavy head cold, keen on keeping his number of appearances for Farnborough ticking over.
We had started to create chances when we took a huge step backwards. Ian Lyons put his hand up for his enormous contribution to the second Diamond goal after a defensive mistake. We bounced back fairly quickly with Patrice Mongelard crossing the ball for Roger French to head home from close range. This was Roger’s first goal of the season.
What should have been a pleasant memory was marred later by another technical red card for Roger – after a contretemps with the opposing centre half – which left the referee with no choice but to issue both players with what I would call a SHIT – Substitute Himself Invitation To. Ian Shoebridge came back on for Roger. Before then, on the hour, we had made a second tranche of substitutions with Ian Coles, Nick Waller, Colin Brazier and George Kleanthous off for Paul Scotter, Steve Blanchard, Simon Thomas and Andy Faulks.
Once Roger departed our game improved markedly despite gifting a third goal to Diamond. At 3-1 down and with only twenty minutes to go we played our best football. A Paul Scotter cross into the box was almost wasted by Andy Faulks before Ian Shoebridge pounced on the loose ball to narrow the deficit to one goal.
The last fifteen minutes or so were not comfortable for Diamond who kept asking the referee how long there was to go. We forced several corners, got behind the Diamond defence, had several shots on goal that failed to give us what would have been, at that time, a deserved equaliser. Andy Faulks, Sinisa Gracanin, Simon Thomas and Ian Lyons all had a go but to no avail.
In our eagerness to get back on level terms Colin Mant mounted a Diamond player in the centre circle but there was no malice in it. Diamond dug deep and with their assured keeper at his best we were frustrated. We underestimated our opponents and paid the price. By the time we were back to our normal selves time had run out. The game was played in good spirit for the most part bar the incident which the referee had to deal with. On the whole the referee was as fair as Mick Gearing is when he does our home games, albeit with a bit more to say than Mick. Rumours that the showers were freezing were unfounded and in fact they did not feel crowded despite around ninety players (minus Andy Faulks) in need of ablution.
Eight of us made it through the Sidcup one way system to gather at the Alma public house in Alma Road. I reminded myself that the Battle of Alma was the first engagement of the Crimean War. In those days the French were on our side, and Lord Lucan was in charge of the cavalry. Buffet wise this was a lean occasion. Buffet Buster Nick Waller scavenged for free cheddar and nuts at the bar but there was not enough there for a growing man, and this week Thomas French hung on tight to his lunch box. The buffet outlook for next week is much brighter for the rest of the team as Nick is unavailable for selection.
Your match reporter too will be absent. Colin Mant is picking up his (poison) pen. I can only hope he writes about the game, and thinks less about settling scores by writing about those who are not there. Come to think of it – if he could just score that would be great, and he could then have the added joy, as some of us have experienced, of writing about it. That is assuming that the game is played – we are back at home at Farrow Fields for the next five matches. I hope someone was joking when they said – see you in five weeks.
Man of the match: Obi Ugwumba – inspired by the Africa Cup of Nations perhaps, and almost as good on the ball as Michael Jr.
Man of the match: Michael Ugwumba