Sunday 19th February 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
West Farleigh Show How Far Farnborough Have to Go
After last week’s cancellation – surely the last sting in this winter’s tale or tail, we were keen to play today. I think we are still glad we did, though I cannot be sure. The weather was better than it has been for a long time. I cannot say the same for our football. West Farleigh had requested a later kick-off to allow them fifteen more minutes to travel from the depths of the Kentish Weald. Andy Faulks was still late for us, having celebrated his birthday this weekend – but as none of the rest of our team appeared to have been there, everyone else was on time, including Steve Blanchard (just) who came back from holiday yesterday. So too was referee Mick Gearing who celebrated his birthday last weekend. We also welcomed back Eric Johnson who travelled all his way from the USA for his annual half in Farnborough colours and this was an opportunity for his genial host, Senior Vets Chief Clown, Toby Manchip, and self-appointed “Overall Club Captain” to come scatter pearls of wisdom about the clubhouse. Eric was glad to get away from the California weather but had to put up with Toby for longer than we did (including a visit to Ghent during the week to watch Spurs).
Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Dave Green, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Andy Faulks, Eric Johnson.
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Toby Manchip, Nicholas Michael, Obi Ugwumba (Jr).
Strategist and DJ: Mick O’Flynn.
We do not expect easy games against West Farleigh and it was clear early doors that we were not going to get one today. They only had twelve players but they were well balanced, organised, worked hard, with big units at the back, a compact midfield, and a tall and short combo at the front both with pace that included a Deano. Our concerned readers will know we struggle against sides who have a Deano, and that our search for a Deano of our own goes on.
Initial exchanges were even and if anything we carried a bit more menace in the first ten minutes or so. Kypros Michael twice broke through, even rounded the keeper but nothing came of it. Even his lad Nicholas thought that dad should have taken an early shot on one of those occasions. I agreed to mention this in the match report but only after Kypros promised not to hurt the boy. West Farleigh were just biding their time, getting our measure and their first serious incursion into our box after fifteen minutes brought them their first goal – a first time volley on the run to convert a cross from the right of our defence with a well-placed shot that crept inside the post. The West Farleigh player had three Farnborough players within a two yard radius but he had the greater desire, speed of thought, anticipation and momentum. That in a nutshell is the story of the whole game.
Their second goal barely five minutes later had a touch of farce about it. A cross from the left of our defence seemed destined for Paul Parsons who had called for the ball and come for it. But in his way was Mick O’Flynn and their bodies coalesced in a heap – like a pair of mating beetles. The ball fell kindly to a West Farleigh player to tuck into an empty net. Mick’s brief encounter with Paul meant that he had to go off for a bit and we made the first change of the match with Phil Anthony replacing Mick a little ahead of schedule. Even at two down, we were still making a game of it but without really troubling the West Farleigh keeper. On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard and Dave Green made way for Andy Faulks and a returning Mick O’Flynn. Before the end of the first half the Deano had struck with a crisp shot from inside the box which was hit too well for Paul Parsons. It was 3-0 at half-time but could have been worse. For the second consecutive home game Tony Harvey had appeared to confront a scoreline that he was not expecting. I am not surprised he turned the conversation to cycling in the Ghent Velodrome when Toby Manchip appeared a little later. Toby was amazed to find the only other person he knew who had been to Ghent (apart from Eric Johnson), standing next to him, watching a game at Farnborough on a Sunday morning in February.
The talking at half-time amongst ourselves was good, perceptive, intelligent. We are good at analysis, it is execution we find difficult. We also reminded Ian Shoebridge to put the oven on to cook the sausages as he departed the scene with Eric Johnson looking to be the trump in our shuffled pack. But within five minutes of the restart we were 4-0 down. Simon Thomas was mugged on the touchline, the ball progressed into our box, was cleared forcefully by Paul Parsons against Colin Mant’s ex-ballroom dancer’s posterior, whence it was cushioned into the path of Deano who had a simple tap-in. We decided Colin could have the assist for that one.
Colin would have had another assist five minutes later as he put tantric Mick Gearing in the position of awarding yet another penalty against Farnborough. If Colin had not had his hand round Deano’s throat in an attempt to check his run on goal – Mick might have kept his whistle in his mouth without blowing (now you know what tantric refereeing is). However, Paul Parsons pulled off a double save – first punching the ball against the underside of the bar, I think, and then punching it clear as Deano moved in for the kill only to find that could not head Paul’s fist into the net. On the hour we made changes with Patrice Mongelard and Dave Green back on for Mick O’Flynn and Kypros Michael. It is fair to say we rallied in the game, with Peter Harvey bringing his energy, hunger and pride into midfield. We even managed to reduce the score after about eighty minutes when Obi Ugwumba surprised everyone with an accurate shot from distance which deceived the otherwise very good West Farleigh keeper. You could say we drew the second half.
There were some niggly fouls, many involving Deano, without malice, which broke the game up, and tested Mick Gearing’s patience but in the end we had to acknowledge that the best team won. They came a long way and we came up short. There were grumbles; some accusations of energy conservation, positional indolence and football unintelligence; more moaning than in an adult movie, allegedly. Nobody is calling for a change in the management team yet, after three straight defeats, at least I do not think so. But there did not seem too much universal affection and mutual admiration in the team. In the clubhouse though it was a different matter as the signs of Lee and Senay’s engagement party the night before were everywhere. We wish them well.
Pam and Ian Shoebridge put out more hotdogs, samosas, bhajis, sausages, cheese chunks and sausage rolls than we, and dog Pip, could manage – even after Sunday XI Manager Vince Wray made two visits to the buffet table. Some of the West Farleigh lads left early I think, owing to the travelling distance. We could have done with Buffet Sinkhole Nick Waller today.
I averted a travesty in the Man of the Match voting by refusing to record two votes for Toby Manchip.
Farnborough Man of the Match: Paul Parsons, for that double punch.
Man of the match: Paul Parsons