Hockey: Marlborough men's first team keep their unbeaten record - and depleted seconds travel a long way for a draw
Marlborough 2 Swindon 1
Marlborough Hockey Club's first men's team maintained their one hundred per cent start in the Conference North league with an impressive victory over fellow table toppers - Swindon (October 14).
The game started at a frantic pace with Swindon enjoying the best of the early exchanges. Marlborough took a while to settle into the game and found themselves under pressure and having scramble the ball away inside their own circle on several occasions.
Marlborough were soon able to get to grips with the way Swindon were playing and began to exert themselves on the game more fully. Marlborough began to force Swindon into making mistakes but they could not turn this into a goal and instead found themselves behind before the break.
At half-time, Marlborough felt they were unlucky to be behind, but also knew Swindon were not going to allow them back into the game easily.
Marlborough had not been retaining possession well enough, looking to force the ball through the middle of the pitch rather than playing their normal brand of hockey focusing on creating width and height in attack.
The home team started the second half well, looking dangerous by pushing John Bromley higher up the pitch down their right-hand channel. Swindon continued to look to play on the counter-attack - playing a very direct style of hockey whenever the ball was won.
Marlborough turned their pressure into a goal, with the ball being won high up the pitch by RIch Fynn. He played the ball into the circle to Alex Renwick who evaded his defender with his first touch and calmly played the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
It looked as though the momentum had really shifted to Marlborough and they went in search of another goal. It came when Mark Ramage won the ball in his own half and found a pinpoint pass through the heart of the Swindon defence to the buoyant Alex Renwick. He instantly turned the last remaining defender, beating him with ease before drawing the keeper and slipping the ball underneath him and into the empty goal.
In the last ten minutes, Marlborough defended resolutely, limiting Swindon to shots form narrow angles which Aaron Holloway was able to save comfortably.
It seemed as if the game was finished. But Swindon were awarded a penalty corner with the last play of the match. Marlborough successfully charged down the opposition's flick to give them victory.
Marlborough.news Man of the Match was awarded to Alex Renwick, who showed some exceptional skill throughout the game.
Ed Watson reports on the men's Second Team fixture away to Weston-super-Mare (October 14):
Unfortunately, in what threatens to be the story of our season and despite the captain promising ice creams all round, the prospect of a trip to Weston-super-Mare proved a hard sell.
However, confidence was high after last week's win and the junior section ably stepped up to fill some vacant adult shoes with young Tom Llewellyn making his first start for the Seconds.
Things got off to an inauspicious start however when one of the team cars overheated five miles into our trip, luckily we were rescued by Rob Hues who managed to shoe horn us into his car.
After the shortest of warm ups, we started the game and were immediately put under pressure by a very physical and quick Weston-super-Mare team.
Despite some very robust tackling, in particular from chopper Watson, the goal finally came when one of their forwards lost his marker and put the ball past Rich Newton.
Our defence continued to be tested time and time again with Rich Newton pulling off some great saves and Rob Hues saving a shot on the line. Ryan Noble was literally everywhere and Tom Llewellyn had a great debut at left back.
Having failed to convert a number of smash and grab counterattacking chances, a Marlborough goal finally arrived in the second half via what the Captain referred to as a National League move: Keith Radnedge drilling the ball into the D just outside the left post with Ed Watson running in to deflected the ball into the goal.
Weston became increasingly frustrated as they could not make their pressure pay off and became even more physical. This however backfired when one of their larger players tried to muscle Ed 'the enforcer' Kendall off the ball only for him to be put back in his place.
In the final minutes a winning goal was inches away in what was the best chance of the game: Ed Watson tantalizingly deflecting Will Hughes's cross onto the outside of the post from the tightest of angles. With no further clear cut chances coming at either end the game finished with honours even at 1 - 1.
Marlborough.news Man of the Match was shared between Will Hughes for running the forward line with real menace and intent, and Tom Llewellyn for a fantastic debut performance.