Hockey: victory for all three Marlborough men's teams - for the thirds their first win since 2016!
Marlborough men’s first team maintained their positive start to life in North Conference with a comfortable 3-0 victory away at Bristol UWE.
The game started in a very end-to-end fashion with UWE applying early pressure to the Marlborough back line without ever really threatening to score. After about 10 minutes, Marlborough began to settle into their normal pattern of play and started to take control of the game.
UWE began to look very hurried at the back as Marlborough were able to press the ball into areas they felt confident they could win it, with John Berry looking particularly dangerous when carrying through the inside-right channel.
Despite their dominance, Marlborough were unable to take numerous half chances that came their way. However, the increasing amount of pressure eventually told when Marlborough were awarded a Penalty Corner. Unfortunately, the normal recipient of Marlborough's go-to routine decided he needed a head start and was sent packing to the halfway line for breaking into the D early.
Matt Osborne stepped up confidently and turned Rich Fynn's pinpoint ball past the keeper for the opening goal.
All credit to UWE as they responded well, perhaps Marlborough switched off slightly as the hopeful long passes UWE had been playing all game were suddenly finding players in dangerous areas. If not for the excellent reactions from keeper Aaron Holloway, Marlborough would have quickly found themselves pegged back level.
The message at halftime was simple: keep pressing and they would become frustrated, turning the ball over in dangerous areas of the pitch. This was exactly what happened when Marlborough extended their lead 15 minutes into the second half.
Charlie Hawley, dressed in his 'new' shoes, pressed hard to their Left Half winning the ball and enabling it to be played to Rich Fynn who, from a narrow-angle, squared the ball for Rhys Davies, who managed to sit the UWE keeper down as he feinted before casually turning strong and flicking the ball into the unguarded net - a very composed finish.
Marlborough put the game to bed with 10 minutes to go following another excellent piece of team pressing. UWE were forced to play a hurried pass into their midfield where Matt Osborne was able to rob them and carry hard towards the circle. He drew two defenders towards him before slipping the ball left to John Berry who took the ball in his stride, opened his body up and fired the ball into the far corner on his reverse.
It was a very professional performance from Marlborough, controlling long spells of the game and showing the sort of team-orientated play which has been the backbone of their success in recent years.
Marlborough.news Man of the Match was awarded to John Berry - for what can simply be described as a 'colossal' performance
Ed Watson on the men's second team 3-2 home victory over Westbury & UB B team:
With all feelings of shame and dishonour from last week's debacle fading into distant memory, it was a confident and crucially larger squad that arrived to do battle with Westbury B.
Right from the start it was clear that this would be a tight game, but with plenty of early possession and some excellent interplay down the right flank, Marlborough began to take charge of proceedings.
The first goal came as somewhat of a shock to everyone - Harry Milton swung and missed at the top of the D, Ed Watson bunted the ball goal-wards - most players waiting for the umpire's whistle to blow. When it did finally blow, a goal appeared to have been scored - much to the confusion of both teams.
As the first half progressed, Westbury looked more dangerous and created several chances overlapping down their right wing. However, it was a neat combination of Mark Ramage and Ed Watson which provided a goal of no debate.
The second half saw yet more pressure from Westbury, including a period of four or five short corners in quick succession, but the Marlborough defence held firm, helped by some excellent saves from Rich Newton in goal.
With a half court press in operation, there was plenty of space to attack behind enemy lines, although quite how Ryan Noble managed to find himself in a two on one with the last man (having charged up from central defence) is anyone's guess.
Having ridden a fair amount of luck, it was Marlborough who had the last word from a short corner near to time.
In truth, the scoreline flattered Marlborough somewhat as Westbury (playing with a bare 11 men) deserved to get something out of the game. However, this was a very positive response from Marlborough following the previous week's drubbing, which hopefully shows signs of good things to come.
Honourable mentions this week go to Rich Newton for a sterling clean sheet performance in goal, John Sowerby for a promising debut, but in a legitimate and totally unbiased call from the legion of spectators (the injured Nick Jephson) the Marlborough News Online Man of the Match is awarded to Ed Watson.
Alex Ford on the third team's home home fixture with Corsham:
A fantastic start to the season with a 2-1 victory against Corsham.
Corsham broke early with a good goal, however unlike last season heads didn’t go down and after some strong attacking play Marlborough were awarded a deserved short corner through which Phil Gill evened the score line with a drag flick, leaving it 1-1 at half time.
With a possible victory in our sights and a good pep talk from Andy Shaw at half-time, the team returned strong and thanks to plenty of fresh legs from the rolling subs, Marlborough began to dominate the second half both in attack and defence.
Both juniors and seniors were making an impact on the game. With just minutes to go, Marlborough scored a second goal from a brilliant cross from Phil Gill which was beautifully picked up by Wayne Cranstone who skilled the goalkeeper and lifted the ball into the net.
All in all, a performance to be proud of and a milestone - the team's first win since 2016!