Sunday 26th April 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Welcome result for both sides
After last week’s unwelcome turn of events we needed to restore our belief and although we did not win today – we did not lose either. Both teams today came off the pitch with heads held high. We had the benefit of a rare outing on our main pitch with its surface softened and lubricated by the overnight rain.
Although it was at least ten degrees cooler than yesterday, and overcast, we had drawn a good home crowd including a good turnout from our treatment table. The Wellcome technical area was almost as crowded as ours. Our opponents were more welcome than most – having enabled us to play “home” games at their Beckenham base when winter rains claimed our pitch.
Paul Scotter, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Patrice Mongelard;
Simon Thomas, Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Waine Hetherington;
Colin Mant, Andy Faulks.
Substitutes: Roger French, George Kleanthous and Nick Waller.
Supporters: Colin Brazier, Darren Burkett, Rebecca Coles, Ian Lyons, Jane Martin, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Shoebridge, Keith Soilleux, (FOBG Club Chairman) Steve Viner, and Obi Ugwumba Jr.
When referee Mick Gearing got us under way we had two well-matched teams facing each other, and so it proved right to the end. The early exchanges revealed hard-working defences and a dynamic Wellcome midfield formation that pressed hard with some athletic big units. The first incident of the game was an unwelcome sight as an accidental coming together saw Simon Thomas’ participation end after only five minutes with what we suspected was a broken nose (confirmed later by text from Farnborough Hospital A&E). Thespian Simon’s face is, in a sense, his living, and we sincerely hope his dashing good looks will not become too rugged. Nick Waller replaced Simon, and we had to adjust our formation in a way that had been unforeseen by the Managerial Clipboard which was later handled by Colin Brazier with tactical advice from Jane Martin.
We had marginally more possession in the first half but did not do much with it. The Wellcome semaphore running their line was busy as several Farnborough moves were deemed offside. Our attackers had the better of their markers on pace but not positioning. The vigilance of both defences limited the goalscoring opportunities and it took a set-piece to break the deadlock after thirty-five minutes. Obi Ugwumba was taken from behind in the box as he advanced on goal having broken through the Wellcome defensive line.
When Michael went down it appeared late, and in slow motion, to our opponents. To us it was the act of a powerfully built man, taken by surprise, and going down reluctantly but without artifice. Michael later abandoned his usual strong silent man act to tell us about it at length in the changing room. Once the cacophony of voices had stilled George Kleanthous stepped up and finished clinically off the post. 1-0 it remained to half-time. We knew that one goal would not be enough but had not been able to secure the comfort of a second one.
Roger French replaced Patrice Mongelard at half-time at left-back (to play mostly with his right foot). The second half not only had three times as many goals as the first, but at least five or six times as many scoring opportunities for both sides. The best chances of the early part of the second period fell to Farnborough as George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks threatened to make their superior movement and intelligent running pay.
The Wellcome keeper was fortunate with a sliced clearance, a couple of rebounds and did well in at least two one-on-ones. He also pulled off a great one-handed save to tip a scorcher from Andy Faulks round the post. Nick Waller was unfortunate to see the ball cannon off his shoulder and over the bar as he moved in to finish a Farnborough move on the Wellcome goal line. Had Nick been at the other end that would have probably gone in. We failed to pull ahead, our opponents got their second wind, and we were on the back foot. It was not surprising when they got back in the game. Patrice Mongelard (who had come back on for Paul Scotter on the hour) cleared off the line from a corner.
The corners kept coming for Wellcome (we had none in the second half tellingly). One corner saw Gary catch the ball and Colin Mant’s head at the same time – like two glands in a sac. The first Wellcome equaliser came from – you have guessed it, a corner. Gary Fentiman called for the ball in a crowd scene, was impeded by a combination of Wellcome and Farnborough players. As the ball was hammered in sweetly, after a poor clearance from the edge of the box, Gary was in fact incapacitated, prostrate, immobilised, by the not inconsiderable weight of our Nick Waller resting on top of him – the Stonehenge defence you might call it. Referee Mick Gearing was unmoved, stone-faced, and we had to do it all again.
And we did, as five minutes later we edged ahead again. Andy Faulks broke clear and squared the ball for George Kleanthous to tap in ever so gently from half a yard out. We failed to hold on to this lead. Wellcome, in their last game of this season, were not giving up without a fight and they were rewarded when one of their forwards latched on to a delicate defence-splitting ball over the top in the heart of our defence. It looked like Gary had done enough to get hold of the ball but somehow it squirmed out of his grasp and fell kindly to the forward who slotted home. Gary made amends later by diving at the feet of the same forward to retrieve the ball.
We made a number of changes in the last quarter of the game: Obi Ugwumba was replaced by Colin Mant (but Michael was back on for the last ten minutes for Nick Waller) and Paul Scotter finished the game after Roger French came off. Both teams had chances to win it but a late winner would have been unduly harsh on either side. The disputed offside flag played a part in keeping the score at 2-2.
The après-match discussion featured news of Simon Thomas, to whom we sent our best wishes, and preparations for the first of our midweek fixtures, in two days’ time. We have five matches in a fortnight at the end of a long season to look forward to.
The buffet cornucopia served up by Pam Shoebridge and Jane Martin went quickly: pizza, bread rolls, cheese, crisps, pork pies, slow-roast sausages, samosas, spring rolls, potato croquettes, cherry tomatoes. Buffet Great White Nick Waller was circling so I cleared my plate pronto.
Man of the match: Paul Scotter for his usual brand of no nonsense defending.
Man of the match: Paul Scotter