A bad day at the office sees Farnham Town lose 3 -0 at home to Balham.
The bitter truth is that there were precious few positives that Farnham can take from this game.
Newcomer Paris Muirhead looked tidy in midfield and ‘keeper Harry Birchnall made a series of fine saves (including an absolute cracker from close range in the first half) to keep the score respectable, but, frankly, that was as good as it got.
It’s true that injuries, illnesses and suspensions have prevented Farnham from fielding anything approaching a settled side.
However, there is, quite simply, little or no cutting edge to a Town team that lacks a natural striker.
The forward line consists of obviously talented players that make intelligent runs and look to play in teammates with clever little touches, but none of them are an out and out goalscorer. Each is more of a provider than a poacher.
Which made it all the more ironic that the opening goal was scored by a Farnham player.
A cross from the Balham left evaded everyone in the Farnham area, until it bounced off an unfortunate Jack Mitchell and into the net.
Unlucky, certainly. But undeserved?
Probably not on the balance of play that saw the Town fail to register a single shot on goal during another lacklustre first half showing.
Manager Colin Millard obviously agreed and rang the changes at half time.
Muna Mwatsiya and Harvey Mitchell came on and into the midfield, with Dan Stewart pushed up to replace George Pilbeam in attack.
It might have been a managerial masterstroke, but we will never know.
Within minutes of the teams coming back onto the pitch, Stewart was making his way back to the dressing room, shown a straight red card for an alleged headbutt. It’s Farnham’s fourth red card this season and ill-discipline is starting to become another unwanted issue.
It’s a cliché that teams can play better when down to ten men, but here it was true for a Town side that switched to a back three.
With the full backs now playing as wing backs, Farnham finally found some width and started to put pressure on the Balham back four.
They got their reward and a lifeline back into the match when Josh Ogunseye was brought down by the Balham ‘keeper for a stonewall penalty midway through the second half. Unfortunately, Josh’s record from the spot is slightly hit or miss, and this was one of his worst, straight at the ‘keeper and at a comfortable height for him to make a simple save (the only save he had to make all match).
The miss also served to knock the stuffing out of the Town’s tiring ten men.
Balham scored a second from an unstoppable free kick sent straight into the top left hand corner and added a third pretty much on the stroke of full time when Farnham failed to deal with a simple through ball and allowed the Balham striker the easiest of opportunities
Farnham Town manager Colin Millard gave a typically honest reaction to the result :
“The inconsistencies that I suggested we would have from day one of the season are no more evident than in this last week.
A disappointing performance versus Croydon, then a very good reaction in the County Cup away at a strong Abbey Rangers followed by an unrecognisable performance from one of my teams today. Balham were very worthy winners.
It is my job to find a solution to the inconsistency but, at the same time, it is the players’ jobs to perform on the pitch.
Our season currently has a consistent pattern; good start, then a poor run followed by a good run and now we are back in a sticky patch and another poor run. And you get out of sticky patches by working hard and working for each other.
The solution to the inconsistency will be found. Consistency of selection will help me.
It’s true that we are missing many players, but that’s an easy excuse.
The players in this squad are expected to compete against each other to make my job as difficult as it should be to select teams.
Too many are maybe resting on their laurels while others are out? It’s time to step up or ship out”.
MOTM : Harry Birchnall
It’s true that the Town are set up to play better away from home where they can soak up pressure and look to hit sides on the break.
However, it’s tactic that’s less suited to playing at home where fans hope to see something more exciting.