Hockey: two victories and a good draw for Marlborough ladies with the first's win judged as 'magnificent'
Gillingham 0 Marlborough 2
The squad set off at the crack of dawn for an early push back away in Dorset. Not having met Gillingham before and teams level on points in the league, the scene was set for a competitive match neither side wanted to lose.
The first 20 minutes not only saw Marlborough dominate possession, but also playing their best hockey yet this season. Slick passing in midfield, transfers across the pitch from the defence and an impenetrable press up front. A goal was only a matter of time.
A quick ball out of Marlborough’s defensive third from centre midfielder Rachel Cox to forward Catherine Manley suddenly opened up the field. Jess Davies made a perfectly timed run for Manley to swiftly move the ball on to.
Despite a defender hot on her heels, Davies calmly took the ball into the D. A pass across the goal found Bella Busby poised and ready on the post and confidently tucked it past the keeper.
The second half continued much the same with Gillingham rarely testing the away side. A well organised back line courtesy of Anna Scott, a handful of competent saves by keeper Vicky Moxham and precision tackles by Emily Carter-Davies allowed the side to play with flare and confidence.
Half backs Amy Davidson and Beth Palfrey tirelessly worked the width of the pitch to ensure the team kept pushing forwards. Another opportunity arose when Cox dribbled the ball into the D past multiple opposition.
A goal scoring opportunity and a foul from Gillingham resulted in a penalty flick, Marlborough’s opportunity to extend the lead and give some breathing space. Alas, the ball went narrowly wide.
Marlborough’s forward line continued to thwart the opposition’s attempts at clearing the ball thanks to agile reactions and hassling from Anna Strover and Tess Christmas.
Time was running out for Gillingham and so they stepped up the pressure. Midfielders Sophie Fynn and Alice Thompson broke up any potential attacks from the home team and redistributed the ball effortlessly. One such pass found Manley on the baseline, a short move into the D and a subtle pass under the shoulder to fellow attacker, Milly Dawson, perfectly positioned on the P spot. Dawson's shot only marginally saved by a Gillingham defender, but Marlborough could celebrate regardless as Jess Davies was queuing up for rebounds and tucked the ball into the goal on the final whistle.
Two-nil - a just reward for such skilled hockey described by one onlooker as 'worthy of premier league standard'.
With every player putting in a top performance, player of the match votes were awarded to most of the squad. Defender, Emily Carter-Davies crept ahead of her teammates to secure the marlborough.news Player of the Match award for her reliable tackles, quality aerials and distribution round the back.
This moves Marlborough Ladies Firsts up to third in the league - and facing Bath Buccs next week.
Louisa Gosling reports on Marlborough Ladies second team's home game against West Wilts:
The biting cold and wet weather set the mood for the match against West Wilts Seconds, with Marlborough Seconds struggling to focus their skills and clear the ball effectively.
However, the home team held together and saw some glimpses of our usual skill, rallied after conceding a goal in the first half, and saw Katie McQue nudge a goal over the line to take it to one all.
The defence bore the brunt of the action, with Sarah Kendall holding the line and rallying the troops. Edie Bound (marlborough.news Player of the Match) played an outstanding game in goal, saving multiple difficult shots and calling the game from the back line.
Marlborough showed their strength in defensive short corners and despite being under pressure for much of the match, held strong and pushed back. There was some great game-play in the midfield, with Heather Barnes and Ciara Blackstock breaking through and driving forward with great skill, though goals proved elusive.
Towards the end of the match, Marlborough finally managed to regroup and set up in to our usual pattern, allowing a great last minute goal from Heather Barnes, bringing the end result to 2-1 to Marlborough.
Daisy Beckwith reports on Marlborough Ladies' Third team's home game against Team Bath Buccaneers Fifth squad:
Bath decided to have a 'kicking back' instead of a goalie, which meant an extra field player for them, keeping Marlborough ladies on their toes.
During the game, Marlborough showed good movement and passing, although Bath were very quick getting to the ball. Unfortunately for them, Annabel Prowse did a great run towards the D, hitting the ball in, for a Bath player to touch the ball which deflected into the goal. 1-0 to Marlborough.
Shortly before half time, another battle within the D, saw Teresa Philpott’s great goal hanging to score the second goal for Marlborough. At half time Marlborough were ahead 2-0.
At the start of the second half, both teams came out fighting. Deb Dellar's amazing return from a hand injury, didn't stop her challenging the Bath players.
Brilliant play from Fliss Wright in left defence, moving the ball up the side line, with Karen Davis and Daisy Beckwith's strong tackles holding the mid field. Joanne Henry and Millie Prentice showed some good stick skills throughout play.
Two short corners helped Bath level 2-2. The last 10 minutes of the game was very tense, with the home team putting everything into preventing Bath getting another goal.
A good result for Marlborough after three weeks off. Everyone got a marlborough.news Player of the Match vote, but overall, Daisy Beckwith got it.
This leaves Marlborough second in the table with a game in-hand, and three points off the leaders. Marlborough travels away to Frome next week.