Hockey: despite a run of seven victories Marlborough's men just miss league promotion
Sidmouth & Ottery 1 Marlborough 3
After the long trip down to the coast for a day in the sun and on the pebbly beach of Sidmouth, Marlborough faced a team (March 5) on the rise since Christmas. With nothing but a win being an option for Marlborough in their bid for promotion, the game promised to be an attacking affair with no shortage of hairy moments for both sides.
Sidmouth started the stronger of the two sides and Marlborough goalkeeper Brian Marnane was called into action in the first few minutes of the game making a splendid double save from close range. An early warning shot across the bows of the visiting vessel.
Marlborough responded with several near misses of their own and certainly had the better of the play for the majority of the first half with quick attacks down both flanks. Only the final killer ball was missing.
For the opening minutes of the second half neither team was able to score - until Will Radnedge snuck in at the far post for a controversial deflection goal following a short corner routine. Sidmouth felt slighted by the decision and upped their efforts which looked on the rise until a marauding run from central defender Will Hodge left both sides speechless.
Hodge picked the ball up near the half way and with a burst of unexpected pace, he rifled down the right hand side, past several players before slotting the ball home from an impossible angle…I don’t know what to say!
Stunned by this Sidmouth pulled a goal back quickly before Marlborough veteran defender John Bromley put the game to bed with a sensational slap hit on a short corner routine.
On the whistle it was 3-1. With the game finished Marlborough enjoyed a well earned ice cream on the beach. But sadly results elsewhere in the league were not in their favour.
The Marlborough News Online man of the match was Will Radnedge.
Marlborough 2 Bristol UWE A 0
With promotion now an impossibility due to the week's previous results, Marlborough turned up to the last game of the season (March 12) determined to go out on a high. After almost a decade in charge of the first team skipper Richard Holman was stepping down, so this was a must win game.
The amount of blood sweat and tears that Holman has invested in the development of the club during his tenure cannot be understated and as a result the rest of the Marlborough team were determined to garner him a final three points.
Despite their relegation UWE actually started the brighter of the two sides and used their pace to cause Marlborough some problems early on. Soon Marlborough were able to get a grip on the game and from then on never really looked like relinquishing the momentum of the game.
Ironically skipper Holman was only able to play 3 minutes before substituting himself with a calf injury. That was probably a wise move considering he was due to run the Bath Half-marathon the following day - alongside fellow team members John Bromley and Anil Sud.
Marlborough were made to work heard for their first goal which turned out to be something straight from the training ground. Newcomer Rich Fynn fired the ball to the back post in perfect timing with coach Matt Way’s run before coach Way deftly deflected the ball past the UWE keeper. That is what I call good coaching!
The final play of the first half led to Marlborough's second goal when John Berry picked out Anil Sud for an easy finish as part of a short corner routine. Two-nil at half time.
The second half began with UWE trying to press high, but the gaps created by this allowed Marlborough to flourish with several more near misses. Marlborough completely dominated the second half but were unable to add to their lead and UWE could not muster much to bother the Marlborough defence and goalkeeper.
Another win and just missing out on promotion was tough to take for Marlborough. But there is plenty to look forward to next season.
Following a heartfelt speech from their outgoing captain, members of Marlborough men’s section and the hockey club at large thanked Rich Holman for his huge efforts and exemplary leadership.
The Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was Richard Holman.