Hockey: Marlborough ladies cement second place in league with victory over rivals West Wilts
West Wilts 2 Marlborough 3
With four teams battling it out for second place in the East Division, Marlborough travelled to third-placed team West Wilts eager for three points that would cement their position as runners-up in the league.
Marlborough looked the keener side from the first whistle, with possession and territory very much in their hands for most of the first half. The confidence of the defensive line has grown week-by-week this season. The speed of transfer around the back between Amy Davidson, Emily Carter-Davies, Anna Scott and Tori Williams enabling penetrating attacks down both the right and left flanks.
The speed of the inside-forwards Ness Pickford-Smith and Sophie Fynn was too much for the West Wilts defenders, and the Marlborough forward line earned wave after wave of D-entries that the opposition were lucky to survive.
Millie Dawson and Alice Thompson were both unlucky not to score at close range and Alex Crosby-Jones came off the bench to put a shot just wide within her first minute on the pitch.
The stalemate was broken after 25 minutes, from a ball blasted into the D from full-back Anna Scott which found the sweetest of deflections from the stick of Rachel Cox (Coach Matt Way, would, they said afterwards, be so proud as it was straight off the training ground.)
A second goal soon followed after a Rachel Cox cross from the right was put away by Catherine Manley - a just reward for her immense work rate off the ball.
The ball only troubled Vicky Moxham's D on a few occasions during the first half and Marlborough went into half-time with dominating lead.
Marlborough went into the second half keen to open the gap even further. However, West Wilts came out fighting. They were marking the mid-field more tightly and hanging forwards high to trouble the Marlborough defence - resulting in an early goal.
Marlborough knew that the key to victory was possession-hockey, and after the ball was recycled wide on the left by Amy Davidson, it was quickly transferred through midfield to Neve Beer, who sent a screamer into the back of the net in a fantastic display of individual skill.
It was three-one-up to Marlborough but back at the other end of the pitch, Vicky Moxham's pads were kept a little busier by the speedy West Wilts forwards and a well-worked short-corner saw them close the gap to 3-2.
Marlborough quickly got back into the driving seat, and thought they had buried the game with ten minutes to go, but a Catherine Manley goal was disallowed. Leaving the final score at 3-2. Three points which see Marlborough rewarded with a second-place finish in a tightly contested league.
It was not all good news, as we lost Alex Crosby-Jones to a serious ankle injury midway through the second half. After a quick ‘high-five’ with a Swindon Ladies player in the X-Ray department of the Great Western, Alex was on her way to reconstructive surgery. We wish her a very speedy recovery.
Marlborough News Online player of the match was awarded to Rachel Cox for an amazing goal and for dominating the middle of the park.
Second place in the league table is, joint captain Vicky Moxham told Marlborough News Online after the game: "...a great achievement by a very dedicated and hard working squad who have put the disappointment of last season behind them and worked their socks off to make this season a success."
"If you think we were sixth or seventh in the league at the Christmas break, it shows how far we have come in the second half of the season. We have one more game next Saturday against Bournemouth, who are run away winners of our league."