In a goal rich game Jess Pugh raced to a hat trick (Library photo) Marlborough 6 City of Bath 1
After a three week gap since their last game, Marlborough Ladies saw this fixture as crunch time against old rivals City of Bath who were sitting right above them in the league table.
Right from the whistle Marlborough managed to gain possession and pass the ball around freely. Twice Marlborough attacked down the right with got some early shots, but both times Bath's goalkeeper stood firm. From a 16 yard hit out, City of Bath broke the press and began their attack down the left and penetrating the D and Marlborough's keeper was forced to make the save.
The defence cleared the ball and Marlborough were on the attack again. A one touch pass from Sophie Flynn into the middle of the pitch found Neve Beer who scored from the top of the D - lifting the ball into the top left hand corner.
Just what was needed to calm the nerves. Keeping up the intensity Marlborough pressed again resulting in a short corner. The ball was slipped to Sophie Flynn - her shot was stopped on the line by the defender's foot. Jess Pugh stepped up for the flick and calmly slotted it past the keeper.
Bath gave away possession from the whistle and Marlborough were on the attack again. A sweeping cross-field pass from Rachel Cox to Neve Beer, with a quick ball to Anna Strover who one touch passed it to Jess Pugh who calmly took it round the keeper - Jess's second of the game.
At 3-0 Marlborough sat back and Bath had a good period of possession favouring their right. They had some dangerous passages of play and the defence was caught ball watching several times.
Goalkeeper Vicky Moxham was called upon a few times, but their shots rarely troubled her.
Another attack from Marlborough and another short corner. This time it was saved on the post, but a poor clearance gave the ball straight back to Marlborough. Torie Williams slipped it to the P spot where Rachel Cox was waiting to sweep it into the goal. As the half time whistle blew there were smiles all round.
City of Bath came out strongly and took Marlborough by surprise. Within the first few minutes they were awarded a short corner. A straight strike fired into the top left corner. That was not supposed to happen.
Bath continued to press and break, but were held off by a solid defence. Marlborough struggled to move the ball around as smoothly as in the first half, trying for glory balls rather than keeping it simple. Attack after attack seemed to fall down with the last ball, and Marlborough were giving the ball away far too much.
Marlborough needed another goal to calm the game. Step up Jess Pugh for her third of the game - another close range shot leaving their goalkeeper helpless.
With ten minutes to go Sophie Flynn shot from left only for the ball to be stopped again by a defenders foot on the line, but as the ball rolled over the foot and over the line, the goal was given.
A great goal-filled game with some excellent passages of play. Even better was the news that this result leapfrogged Marlborough over City of Bath in the league table - into the third spot.
Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded jointly to Amy Davidson, Jess Pugh and Rachel Cox.
Back row - l to r: Chris Jones, John Berry, Matt Way, Brian Marnane, John Bromley, Charlie Hawley, Rich Flynn, Anil Sud Front row: Ollie Davies, Will Radnedge, Rich Holman, Alex Renwick, Mark KinderMarlborough 7 Sidmouth & Ottery 0
For their Sunday (February 19) catch-up game, Marlborough welcomed bottom of the table Sidmouth and Ottery.
Marlborough were utterly dominant in the first half, winning the ball numerous times in the Sidmouth half thanks to some excellent work in the defensive press. The energy levels put in by both John Berry and Charlie Hawley playing inside forwards, forced Sidmouth to either put the ball into the middle channel and risk a turnover or simply revert to long hopeful passes to their forwards.
Marlborough found themselves ahead early in the game following excellent build up play down the right hand side of the pitch. Veteran defender John Bromley carried the ball well and released John Berry, he made his way to the baseline and put the ball across goal for Rich Fynn to turn into the net.
Marlborough doubled their lead shortly after when a quickly taken long corner from Rich Holman found Matt Way in space near the baseline, he played the ball across goal and Rich Fynn was once again there to deflect the ball in from a narrow angle - a superbly taken goal straight off the training ground.
Marlborough continued to apply pressure to the Sidmouth defence and extended their lead from a short corner when Rich Fynn slipped the ball to Charlie Hawley to deflect into the goal.
The first goal ...another goal... ...and another...
The lead became four following an excellent passing move by Marlborough to create an overload in the circle, with John Berry once again unselfishly drawing the keeper and squaring the ball to a well placed Mark Kinder who put the ball into the unguarded net.
Shortly before half time Marlborough made it 5-0 following a carbon-copy short corner goal with Charlie Hawley once again finding the net.
...and another... ...and another... ...that looks like another...
A minute into the second half John Berry won the ball just outside the Sidmouth 25, he quickly played the ball to the edge of the circle for Matt Way, who drove to the left, drawing the keeper before playing the ball back under his arm to Alex Renwick. Alex calmly rode the final attempted tackle from Sidmouth and put the ball into the open goal.
Marlborough continued to apply pressure high up the pitch and created their seventh and final goal when the ball was played in towards the P spot for Matt Way to deflect it into the corner of the goal on his reverse.
Close marking by the Marlborough squad Race you to it...
To give Sidmouth credit they kept fighting right until the final whistle and did come back into the game as more of an attacking threat in the final twenty minutes. Solid work from the Marlborough defensive unit managed to snuff out any half chances and kept the clean sheet intact for the home side.
With Sunday's three points, Marlborough have re-established a six point lead over Bath Buccs at the top of the table and with Bristol University slipping up again and dropping out of the third place, promotion is looking more and more likely for the men in green.
Marlborough.News Man of the match was awarded to John Berry for his fantastic performance from midfield - he really was at the heart of everything positive for Marlborough.
City of Bath A 4 Marlborough 4
Marlborough's first game (Saturday, February 18) of their double header weekend was against a City of Bath team that had given them trouble during the home fixture. They seemed merely intent on getting the ball to their extremely talented player (No. 7) and leaving him to it.
The way in which the game started set the tone with No7 attempting to go solo from the push back, to his credit he beat three players before being crowded out.
Marlborough settled into the game well and began to win the territorial advantage and apply pressure to the Bath circle. The deadlock was broken when a high turnover from John Berry led to the ball being worked across goal for Rich Fynn to calmly slot the ball into the corner.
Marlborough extended their lead shortly afterwards with Rhys Davies picking the ball up outside the circle and rolling strong, as he crossed into the circle he unleashed a strike into the top corner of the goal.
Marlborough kept control of the game until shortly before halftime when No7 once again carried the ball through numerous Marlborough tackles before winning a short corner - from which No7 flicked the ball into the net for a goal very much against the run of the play.
Marlborough seemed rattled as the second half began. Bath levelled the scores from another short corner when No7 managed to evade the first runner and fired the ball into the corner of the goal.
Things went from bad to worse when Marlborough turned the ball over in the Bath half. The ball was once again immediately played to No7 who carried the ball forward drawing in and beating numerous Marlborough defenders. Brian Marnane was isolated in goal and had no chance as they worked the ball around him to put into the empty goal.
Once again at this point Marlborough showed their character and began to dig in. They were reduced to ten men on two separate occasions. First, Rich Fynn was shown a green card for 'rebuking' (!) a Bath midfielder who certainly held nothing back in every tackle during the game and had rather cynically fouled Rich Flynn.
Marlborough were back to ten men when Ollie Davies was shown a yellow card. This was more 'team card' and could have easily been awarded to anyone in green for repeated stick tackles and obstruction as No7 continued his one man band act.
Marlborough bought the scores level from a short corner which Alex Renwick won with some of the best elimination moves we have seen. From the resulting corner Rich Fynn buried the ball into the net with a thunderous strike.
The game continued in an end to end fashion and Bath once again took the lead when Marlborough's defenders were sucked into attempting to stop No7. He was able to find a Bath forward in space in the circle who finished the move with a very well taken deflection into the corner of the goal.
Marlborough knew that they needed to impose their own brand of passing hockey and did so to equalise. Rich Holman's excellent interception found Matt Way on the half way line. The ball was released to Alex Renwick on the right wing who played the ball into Rich Fynn who had put in a lung-busting sprint to get onto the P spot.
His first effort was saved by the keeper, but he controlled the rebound well and calmly flicked the ball into the top corner of the goal for another equaliser.
Marlborough.News Man of the Match was awarded to Rich Fynn for composure in front of goal, intelligent movement up front - and his hat-trick.
Click on images to enlarge them...
Perhaps Sunday's excellent performance was down to the team's warm-up routine - accompanied by the junior reserves!