Hockey: Marlborough men dig deep to secure promotion - with five games to go
Marlborough 4 Mid Somerset 3
Marlborough went into the weekend knowing that a win - and other results going their way - would seal their promotion. That was exactly what they got!
Unfortunately for Marlborough they were missing several of their more influential players. This allowed an opportunity for Mark Ramage and the prolific John Metcalfe, who have continually impressed for the second team this year, to get their chance - and they didn't disappoint.
With the players available Marlborough made the brave decision to change from their normal line up into a defensive back three.
The decision paid off immediately with Marlborough completely dominating the early stages and finding space all over the pitch. They won a short corner following a lovely passing move utilising their ability to pivot the ball from one side to the other and find space for their forward runners.
Rich Fynn disguised his flick at goal, opening his wrists up at the last minute to slide the ball toward Charlie Hawley - he deflected the ball across the keeper and into the corner of the goal.
Marlborough extended their lead after John Bromley won the ball in midfield. He transferred the ball to mark Ramage who got his head up and slipped a good through ball into the path of Rich Fynn. He gathered the ball, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Half time arrived without too much fuss, Marlborough maintaining their domination in both possession and territory, especially when Mid Somerset were reduced to ten men following a couple of heavy stick tackles.
Marlborough extended their lead early in the second half when the ball was worked down the right hand channel. Charlie Hawley carried the ball well and slipped it into Alex Renwick in the circle. Alex drove left before dragging the ball back and lifting it over their advancing keeper in one slick movement - another very composed finish from the talented young player.
At this point the match looked finished, but a quick goal for Mid Somerset created a shift in the momentum of the game. Marlborough seemed to have less energy in their press and gaps began to appear. Fortunately the combination of veteran Chris Jones and youngster Ollie Davies defended well - snuffing out any further half chances.
Marlborough restored their three goal cushion when a period of pressure down the left hand side created space to attack into. Rhys Davies, playing in an unfamiliar midfield role, carried the ball well, drawing in defenders before rolling infield to release the ball square to Rich Fynn.
Rich, normally the one applying the finishing touches, carried the ball on an angle before playing it into the circle. Justin Metcalfe had read the play well, getting in front of his marker to deflect the ball over the keeper's foot and into the corner of the goal.
To their credit, Mid Somerset didn't give up and rallied once again. They were definitely helped when Marlborough went through one of their 'funny 5s' - which have been so few and far between this season.
With Marlborough looking tired and turning the ball over in dangerous areas, Mid Somerset managed to score two goals within minutes of each other. Fortunately Marlborough were able to weather that storm and hold on for a well deserved win.
The way in which Marlborough played for 65 minutes of the game was a real credit to the strength in depth at the club this season. The ability to win against the third placed team in our league despite being without five regulars, is exactly why they have gained promotion and are sitting at the top of the league with a handful of games to go.
Marlborough.News Man of the Match was awarded to the evergreen Chris Jones who had a great game winning the ball back numerous times and setting up counter attacks.