Hockey: Marlborough men stay top of the table after tricky drawn game
Team Bath Buccs C 1 Marlborough 1
Marlborough maintained top spot on the Central 1 league table with a hard fought draw away against second placed Team Bath Buccs C.
Marlborough took the lead early on when they stole the ball high up the field and John Berry managed to ride two very 'agricultural' tackles before slotting the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Unfortunately, Marlborough's chances of winning the game took a serious dent when John Berry was unable to play any further part in the match.
Marlborough played some very composed hockey in the first half, transferring the ball well and creating space high up the pitch. But despite several chances Marlborough were unable to extend their lead and Bath began to grow further into the game on the counter attack.
At half-time Marlborough knew they were up against it, down to the bare eleven against a sixteen man squad of energetic students wasn't an ideal situation.
The second half started with Bath beginning to establish more of a foothold in the game, creating several half-chances which Brian Marnane was alert to and saved well.
Unfortunately the change in momentum was being 'helped' by many 50/50 decisions going Bath's way and they were able to draw level following a quickly taken free hit outside the D. With the Marlborough players expecting the hit to go their way they were caught out of position and Bath worked the ball to the baseline. The first attempt was well blocked, but the rebound was played towards goal and left Brian Marnane helpless.
It was obvious that this could be a season defining last twenty minutes and Marlborough began to re-establish themselves as an attacking threat. Some excellent ball carrying through the inside left channel from Will Radnedge enabled him to win Marlborough a short corner with ten minutes to go.
From the corner, Captain Anil Sud slipped the ball towards the back post looking for a deflection. No touch was forthcoming, but the ball bounced back off the post and fell to Rich Fynn, who trapped the ball and fired into the open goal.
Disappointingly the goal was disallowed by one of the Bath umpires as he deemed the ball hit Rich Fynn's foot.
To their credit, Marlborough retained their composure and stuck to the game plan, despite Will Radnedge receiving a green card for 'tackling from the wrong side'. The last ten minutes played out with Bath in the ascendancy and Marlborough resolutely defending their circle.
The game appeared to be over with Worcester Bawden providing an excellent covering tackle to clear the ball away from goal, however, after complaints from the Bath team a short corner was awarded with Worcester judged to have deliberately played the ball over the baseline.
One final chance for Bath and Marlborough players knew the importance of the moment. Fortunately Bath were unable to take advantage of the situation following a poor injection and the ball never leaving the circle.
With the final whistle there were very mixed emotions from the Marlborough team. They knew the potential significance of picking up a point but also felt they had done enough to win the game despite some very challenging circumstances.
They now sit at the top of the league going into the Christmas break, two points ahead of Team Bath Buccs. With Bristol University losing, Marlborough now have a seven point cushion ahead of third place.
Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to Brian Marnane who once again kept Marlborough ahead in the game at a time when they were really under pressure in the first half.