Sunday 18th October 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Now we all need therapy
I suspect not many of our fans heard the bells of St Giles in Farnborough this week, as news filtered through the parish that Roger French was finally going to seek therapy. Before you rush to praise the Lord I should clarify that this is for orthopaedic and soft tissue injuries, and not for any other condition. Moreover, these are injuries to himself, not his opponents. They say that in sport the best therapy is winning and given our recent results we could have done with the "three points" today. I’ll explain shortly why we did not get them. Where we go from here is another matter, and I venture, quite a challenge for any therapist.
So what is the Farnborough Old Boys Guild Senior Vets challenge for a therapist? This is how I would analyse it: We have not won a game in four weeks. We have become a soft touch for other teams who have progressed while we have regressed. We play without pace in critical areas. We do not work hard enough, we have become lazy, many players are not as fit as they could or should be, we cannot convert the chances we create and we are not good at defending long balls over the top. We no longer enjoy our football. We do not play as a collective. We have got old together but cannot see it. And it is going to get worse. Apart from that things are very good.
Patrice Mongelard, Sinisa Gracanin, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier;
Obi Ugwumba, Colin Mant, Simon Thomas, Waine Hetherington;
George Kleanthous, Andy Faulks.
Substitute: Roger French.
Supporters: Isabelle and Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jr.
Numbers dwindled over the weekend as players were dogged by injuries and hangovers. We reduced our playing strength further by lending the opposition a player as they only had ten. I cannot remember when an opposing team did that for us. Our generosity was so great that we let Rob Lipscomb go instead of Roger French. Rob played better for Lloyds than he has for us in a long time. The only time we smiled today as a group was in the team photo which club photographer Colin Brazier masterminded with his usual skill and flair. Colin was “enjoying” his first outing this season, and it was good to see him. He might not be back this side of Christmas, or at all this season, after today. The other Colin in our midst today will be back, and in fact is the only one among us who would be forgiven for having a day off today as he was mourning his father, Stanley Mant, who passed away at the ripe age of 91, last Tuesday. The team and the club have asked me to pass on our condolences to the Mant family.
So when did it start to go wrong as we kicked off initially in overcast conditions (though the sun appeared later)? We had a lot of possession and moved the ball about well in non dangerous areas. Lloyds packed the midfield and defence, playing one lone striker who had a very good game and was a handful throughout. I think we were lulled into a false sense of security. We were allowed a few shots from distance (including one from Colin Brazier that was very easy on the eye) which did not trouble the Lloyds keeper, who looked and played like a proper keeper. I thought we’d have to get real close to beat him.
A hamstring injury to Obi Ugwumba introduced Roger French to the game after about twenty minutes (about 40 mins earlier than planned I hasten to add - ed), on the left of midfield, a position unfortunately requiring mobility, energy, a cool head, and a minimum of flicks. By then I think we had already been undone, against the run of play, by the usual weapon – a long ball over the top, a missed header, no defensive cover, a well-timed run from the forward and a smart finish. We worked hard to get back in the game. Andy Faulks broke clear on the right to latch on to a Waine Hetherington through ball, drew the keeper and squared the ball for George Kleanthous to tuck away inside the post. We had a bit of a spell then. Patrice Mongelard had a thumping shot from the edge of the box, after a pull back from Roger French, which came back off the post. At least one of my team mates expressed relief that he was not going to be reading about a goal (had the ball gone in off the post). Andy Faulks was provider again as he played Simon Thomas in on goal a few minutes before half-time. Simon drew close and finished clinically to give us an advantage at 2-1 after the first period. This felt right given the balance of play, particularly as one Lloyds defender had left the pitch midway through the half (though he was back on for the second half).
The second half did not start well for us. Lloyds were level within a minute. To say we were caught napping would be a travesty. We were in fact comatose as the centre of midfield and defence were undone by our own hesitancy, and the forcefulness of the run from one determined individual on the other team. Steve Palmer was lured off his line and was left stranded three yards out as a smart overhead kick did the rest. It took us a while to shake ourselves out of our torpor and we struggled to create clear chances.
Worse was to come. Lloyds regained the lead on the hour as Steve Blanchard could not quite block a close range shot and the ball trickled ever so gently and agonisingly over the line. It was only then that we showed signs of stirring. Andy Faulks equalised for us with a sharp drive from the edge of the box which took a slight deflection that wrong-footed the keeper. By then Lloyds had even had the nerve to swap keepers.
The momentum was back with us. We forced several corners and drew a good save from the new keeper from an Andy Faulks header. Waine Hetherington and George Kleanthous were getting in each other’s way in the penalty area but at least we were making things happen. With about ten minutes left we had the opportunity to nail the points. Simon Thomas found himself unmarked, with the goal at his mercy and with only the keeper to beat from two yards out. We’ll never know if he was caught in two minds: to shoot or square the ball, to blast it or place the ball; left foot or right foot, follicles arranged this way or that – in the end he just rolled it to the keeper – a shadow of the player who had finished so smartly in the first half.
The moment was to prove costly – five minutes later – the malaise returned in our penalty box and the Lloyds striker claimed his deserved hat-trick and won the game. There was just time for Andy Faulks to blast a free kick towards the woods where it smelled like the mother of herbal relaxants was being enjoyed, as a form of therapy perhaps.
The walk back to the changing rooms was sombre. But the showers were good, the beer cold and the tray of sandwiches, mini Cornish pasties and scotch eggs disappeared in no time, even though Buffet Crevasse Nick Waller was not there. Keen readers of my match reports complained about the absence of a mention for his Buffet Excellency Nick Waller in last week’s reportage. He was not there but he has become a firm favourite among my readers. So this week you get a double helping (Nick would have liked that). Talking of double helping – I could not resist the lure of a toasted chicken sandwich – another case for therapy I am afraid. Even though he batted for the other side, Rob Lipscomb, the only Farnborough player on the winning side today, had to pay his match subs into the Farnborough coffers, and he even sought to cast a Man of the Match vote (a case of no taxation without representation).
Talking of Man of the Match today that was Steve Blanchard – quite a feat in a defence that let in four poor goals. I suppose the argument is that otherwise it could have been worse. That is a fair point.
Man of the match: Steve Blanchard