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Hockey: Marlborough just miss vital points at Swansea

Marlborough vs Swansea                Marlborough lose 2-1

After a narrow defeat in their previous outing against Exeter University, Marlborough made the trip over to Swansea for what was yet again another vitally important game in terms of relegation.  The previous fixture between the two sides had been a close affair which ended 3-3 after Swansea equalised with what turned out to be the final play of the game.

Marlborough started this game well and using the quick, bouncy pitch to their advantage made several fast attacks which forced Swansea on to the back foot.  This became particularly important as Swansea’s only way of clearing the ball was, it seemed, a hit-and-hope tactic. 

Soon Swansea had worked their way into the game and had several chances of their own via short corner routines and some intricate play down both the flanks.  The first half finished 0-0 with both sides wary that he teams seemed very evenly matched.

The second half began with Swansea taking the initiative and forcing Marlborough back by loading the midfield and forward areas with extra players.  After several goal scares Marlborough were able to break with devastating effect thanks to right wing maestro Matt Ashton’s fast paced run and pass which found an unmarked Matt Osborne who was able to score with ease. 

Swansea responded by pushing more forwards higher still and were rewarded for their efforts after a miscued aerial found its way in to the ‘d’ and was then calmly despatched by the surprised Swansea striker.

With the score level and with ten minutes to go both teams were aware that the next goal would most likely be the decider. It was Swansea who stepped forward and claimed the lead after a by-line run and an acute angle shot. 

Marlborough pressed as feverishly as they could in the remaining time but were unable to find the vital equalising goal.    

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Hockey: Back in action after the snow interrupted fixtures, Marlborough lose a close game

Marlbrough vs Exeter University  C            Marlborough lose 3-2

Back after a couple of weeks without any games due to the weather disruption, Marlborough welcomed Exeter knowing that the next few games would be the most crucial part of the season with their fight against relegation.

Exeter started the game in control and showed patience in their build up play not allowing Marlborough into the game in the opening few minutes.  This in turn flustered Marlborough - and when they were able to gain possession they were quick to give it away as they had not yet adjusted to the pace and style of the game.

Exeter deservedly took the lead after Marlborough failed to react quickly enough to an Exeter side line hit which was despatched with ease by one of the Exeter forwards with a pin-point sweep hit.

Marlborough realised that their current standard of hockey would not see them through with any kind of result and upped their game considerably.  This resulted in several chances through some slick moves down both the left and right flanks and the home side’s spell of pressure was rewarded when Captain Rich Holman drew his team level with a calm finish from close range.

With both sides evenly matched and with half time quickly approaching the next goal would almost certainly prove to be of great importance.  Exeter were the ones to take the lead once more after a short corner routine just on the stroke of half time.

The second half began as the first had ended with both teams playing at a high level with maximum commitment and effort being displayed in every position of the pitch.  Unfortunately for Marlborough several injuries sustained during the match forced their hand in changing their formation several times and as a result they were mainly restricted to playing counter attacking hockey.   

This tactical change lulled Exeter in to a false sense of security and soon Holman had his and Marlborough’s second goal of the game after a quick interception in the opposition area saw him slot the ball between the on-rushing goalkeeper’s legs.

Level at 2-2 with just seven minutes remaining the game looked as though it could swing either way. But once more Exeter forced their way in front after a defensive lapse in concentration.  

With the few minutes left Marlborough tried their utmost to score and earn a draw but were unable to fashion an open chance.

The game ended 3-2 in favour of Exeter with Marlborough disappointed having given their all. With several double header weekends coming up such application will need to be the minimum requirement in order to keep their hopes of staying in their league division alive.

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Hockey: Marlborough lose first post-Christmas game to Cardiff Metropolitan University

Marlborough vs Cardiff UWIC*            Marlborough lose 2-0

After the long Christmas break Marlborough welcomed second placed Cardiff for the first game of the New Year in what was sure to be a tough test of fitness and commitment.

Cardiff started very brightly and were soon causing Marlborough problems down both flanks with high quality dribbles and precise passing. 

This pressure led to several short corners being conceded by the home side within the first ten minutes.  Fortunately for Marlborough they held firm aided immensely by several high quality saves from goalkeeper Brian Marnane.   

After weathering the initial Cardiff onslaught Marlborough made several inroads into the game with some fast counter attacks and well timed forward runs.  With the game being evenly contested Marlborough suddenly found themselves down to ten men for a contentious sin bin offence.  

This allowed Cardiff to assume the ascendancy once more, but with some astute tactical changes Marlborough were able to hold the score line at 0-0 until parity of numbers was restored.  Ironically only a few minutes later a lapse in concentration allowed Cardiff to burst forward and score from close range - the only goal of the first half.

The second half began with Cardiff pressing higher up the field when Marlborough had the ball and allowing the defence and midfield no time or space to operate.  To their credit Marlborough were able to weave some intricate passes through the Cardiff net and almost broke free several times.  

Mid-way through the second half Cardiff scored a second goal with Marlborough once again just switching off for a split second which was ruthlessly pounced on by the visitors.  Marlborough sought for a goal of their own towards the end of the game but were unable to convert several short corner routines.

The game ended 2-0 with Marlborough goalkeeper Brian Marnane a deserved Man of the Match.  Skipper Richard Holman voiced his pride at the levels of application and effort displayed by his team in the first game back against a very strong Cardiff side.

A fair result for both sides after a hard fought game which was decided in two moments of extra quality from Cardiff.

[*The University of Wales Institute Cardiff is now known as Cardiff Metropolitan University.]

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Hockey: Spirited Marlborough lose 2-5 to Robinsons

Marlborough vs Robinsons A            Marlborough lose 2-5

With the season fifty per cent complete, Marlborough travelled to Bristol to face Robinsons in the return leg of the opening fixture of the 2012-13 season.  The first meeting between the two sides had been an attacking, exciting game in which Robinsons had edged home seven goals to four.

The game began with Marlborough looking the brighter of the two sides, showing a confidence and calmness controlling the game through some excellent ball retention.   Their bright start was rewarded after some intricate passing and sharp work down the right hand side led to Anil Sud scoring with a quick-fire shot on the angle. 

The opening goal led to Robinsons changing their tactics as they had not been able to pass their way through Marlborough’s midfield.  They levelled after a slight lapse in Marlborough concentration and soon took the lead after a crash ball deflection.

With such a quick turn around in the score line Marlborough rededicated themselves to the game and were soon making inroads themselves but without the final touch necessary to score. 

Just before the half time break Robinsons increased their lead to 3-1 after another crash ball made its way to an unmarked striker for an easy tap in.

The second half could not have started any worse for Marlborough as within a minute the score was 4-1 after another Robinsons deflection.  The game then ebbed and flowed with both sides pressing for goals and Marlborough’s endeavour was rewarded when Sud struck again from the top of the ‘d’ to bring some hope of a result back.

Unfortunately thoughts of a Marlborough comeback were stopped after Robinsons scored from an incorrectly awarded short corner towards the end of the second half. 

The game ended 5-2 but with Marlborough captain Rich Holman proud of his young side's brave, spirited performance.

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Hockey: Marlborough go down 1-9 to university team

Marlborough vs Bristol UWE            Bristol win 9-1

After the disappointment of a cancelled game and training session the previous week due to the weather, Marlborough made the short trip to Bristol UWE (University of the West of England.) This team had secured second place in the league table after a string of impressive victories.

The game began with Bristol UWE setting the tone with quick ball movement from their defence and midfield in an attempt to suss out Marlborough game plan and strategy.  The home side took the lead scoring from a close range shot following a frantic scramble by Marlborough’s goal mouth.  

Bristol UWE then doubled their advantage following a short corner routine which Marlborough were unable to clear.  With their lead established Bristol UWE visibly relaxed and Marlborough used this to their advantage by stringing together several attacking moves of their own until the end of the first half.

The second half began with Bristol UWE once again taking the initiative scoring quickly after the start from a short corner before cashing in again with a reverse stick strike.  At 4-0 down Marlborough could have let their heads drop but to their credit they harried their opponents in all areas of the pitch and were rewarded when captain Rich Holman scored with a strike from the top of the area.  

Sensing a potential Marlborough come back Bristol UWE stepped up their game again and scored another three quick goals to put to rest any doubts about the final result.  Despite their best efforts Marlborough were unable to score any more goals and in the dying minutes suffered further anguish as the home team scored twice more.  

The game ended 9-1 with Bristol UWE clinching top spot in the league following the day’s other results.

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Hockey: Marlborough lose to West Wilts at Warminster by four goals

West Wilts vs Marlborough            Marlborough lose 6-2

Looking to get back on track after the previous week’s loss, Marlborough travelled to Warminster to face off against West Wilts.  Both teams were sitting towards the bottom of the league table with the winner of the game likely to be out of the relegation zone come the end of the day.

The game started brightly for Marlborough as they played the ball around with purpose and nullified Wilts’ attacking play down the middle of the pitch.  Marlborough were unlucky to find themselves one-nil down after a slight lapse in concentration allowed West Wilts to bag the opening goal following a close range shot in to the left hand corner.

The game continued with Marlborough breaking quickly down both flanks in an attempt to respond.  One such attack down the left led to captain Rich Holman squaring the ball to the unmarked John Bromley who powered his shot past the helpless goalkeeper into the bottom corner.  

Back on level terms Marlborough pressed further up the pitch leaving gaps which Wilts were soon to exploit with two lighting fast counter attacks finished by almost identical reverse stick strikes - putting the home side 3-1 up.  

With minutes to go before half time Marlborough pulled a goal back through their skipper following a short corner routine. Marlborough were very unlucky not to be awarded a penalty flick following some questionable use of feet near the goal line. West Wilts were 3-2 up at half time.

The second half began with Wilts showing their dominance and excellence in possession which frustrated Marlborough in their bid to get back in to the game.  Marlborough found themselves with further arrears after Wilts scored again after a drag flick short corner routine and another with a quick break away after suckering Marlborough high up the pitch.

Marlborough pressed as hard as they could but were chasing the ball for large parts of the second half due to Wilts’ well devised tactics and execution.  The final goal of the game was scored by Wilts with only a couple of minutes to go making the final score 6-2 at the end of the game.

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