Hockey: Increasing the gap - Marlborough men now eight points clear at top of the league
Marlborough 4 Bristol University B 0
For their home fixture (February 4) against Bristol University B - who are in third place in the league - Marlborough put in one of their best first half performances of the season to take a 3-0 lead and ensure the game was all but won by the break.
Marlborough started the game brightly, transferring the ball well across the pitch and finding space for forward runners to receive the ball in dangerous positions. But for a while they could turn these attacks into goals.
Bristol did look a threat on the counter attack with their skilful forward players, but excellent defensive work rate from all of the Marlborough team meant pressure was always applied to the ball carrier and therefore they struggled to distribute the ball forward.
Marlborough took the lead after about 15 minutes when their pressure on the Bristol circle finally led to confusion in the defenders' ranks and provided space for John Berry to rifle the ball across the keeper on his reverse.
Marlborough players sensed there was an opportunity and boy did they take it. They continued to press the Bristol midfield who turned the ball over just inside their half when Anil Sud cleverly read the play to intercept the pass.
He moved the ball square to the advancing Matt Way who was fouled whilst carrying the ball forward. He took the free hit quickly and played the ball into the circle at pace, Rich Fynn had read his intention perfectly and deflected the ball from in front of the keeper into the roof of the net.
At this point Bristol began to look rattled and put in a few clumsy tackles to earn themselves back-to-back green cards. Marlborough managed this period well - putting an extra body into the midfield and controlling the play.
To their credit, Bristol dug in and defended their circle well, but the pressure finally told when Rhys Davies forced a save from the Bristol keeper - but he could only clear the ball as far as Rich Fynn, who composed himself and played the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
Half time arrived and Marlborough knew the game would be decided in the first 10 minutes of the second half. If they could avoid giving Bristol hope then the game was theirs.
Predictably, Bristol came out in the second half with a renewed intensity. They pushed their right half further up the pitch which caused Marlborough trouble before they adapted their press to counter the move. Bristol had much more possession in the second half and began to threaten the Marlborough circle.
It was through some excellent unit defence that Marlborough managed to keep Bristol at bay, with every player taking their defensive responsibility seriously and looking to counter at pace when the chance arrived.
Marlborough finally put the result beyond doubt following a spell of pressure on the Bristol circle. Once again Marlborough were awarded a free hit inside the 25 with Will Radnedge over the ball. He listened to the call from behind from Matt Way and cleverly lead away from the ball to draw the first defender.
This movement gave Matt Way the space to drive into the circle without any defensive pressure, his first effort on goal was saved by the Bristol keeper, but the rebound fell to captain Anil Sud. He steadied himself, picked his spot and played the ball underneath the keeper's left glove.
Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was drawn between central defensive pairing of Rich Holman and Matt Way - with Rich Holman winning it on the re-vote.