Taunton Vale B 4 Marlborough 2
Marlborough's unbeaten start to the season came to an abrupt end after a disappointing performance in a late afternoon fixture at Taunton.
Marlborough started the game in a positive manner, retaining possession high up the pitch and restricting Taunton to long balls to clear their own defensive circle.
This pressure led to the opening goal when Freddie Hazlitt drove down the left wing channel before turning the ball square to Matt Way who played the ball in towards the back post. Mark Kinder had gone back towards the P spot where he expertly diverted the ball into the corner.
Marlborough extended their lead with a carbon copy of the opener with captain Anil Sud this time supplying the pass and Will Radnedge the finish.
So far this season at 2-0 up Marlborough have been routinely turning these situations into three points. This time it was not to be. The game swung when Taunton were harshly awarded a penalty stroke after Rich Newton was adjudged to have covered the ball following a rebound from an initial save. Taunton put the strike into the top corner.
Marlborough seemed rattled and their previous dominance over the game was lost as it became an end-to-end affair. Half time arrived with the scores even - Taunton had levelled the game with a straight strike from a short corner.
Marlborough tried to refocus on what had worked well this season, but were just unable to assert themselves. Taunton continued to play with more and more confidence and made Marlborough look rushed through the middle of the pitch.
The game was very much in the balance when Taunton were awarded another short corner. The initial strike was saved, but the loose ball fell kindly and was played back across goal. The ball was then turned in at the far post by the forward after he initially controlled the ball with his foot.
Unfortunately the near side umpire was unsighted and the umpire at the other end was busy watching a Taunton substitution so the goal stood.
With momentum against them Marlborough started to re-establish their territorial advantage and started to threaten the Taunton circle. Unfortunately they could not quite find the finishing touch and credit has to go to Taunton who defended their circle exceptionally well.
Marlborough had to resort to a chasing game pushing bodies forward. This allowed Taunton to secure the game when they scored their fourth goal from another penalty corner.
Marlborough were quite rightly disappointed with their performance, but need to maintain the positivity they have built over the start of the season. They will be looking to bounce back with a positive performance and result next week at home to Wootton Bassett.
Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to Will Radnedge for being a constant driving force through the midfield.
Marlborough 2 Westbury UB 1
Marlborough men's first team were delighted to keep their one hundred per cent record with their eighth consecutive win of the season - a home win over Westbury UB.
Marlborough started the game slowly, allowing Westbury lots of possession high up the pitch and they took a deserved lead when hesitation in the Marlborough defensive line allowed their forward to find the back of the net.
In the unusual position of being a goal down, Marlborough still looked nervous and following a misplaced pass in their own half were very nearly two goals down when a Westbury forward deflected the ball just wide with Brian Marnane narrowing the angle well.
Marlborough eventually found some more rhythm and managed to find space down the left hand side of the pitch to apply pressure to the Westbury circle. However they found their route to goal blocked by some resolute defending. Westbury's game-plan to sit in deep and try to counter was working well.
Eventually the pressure told and Marlborough equalised following strong work down the right hand side of the pitch, the ball was fired across goal and Alex Renwick was able to hold off the physical marking to finish the move.
Marlborough continued to apply pressure until the half time whistle - to no avail.
The half time break allowed Marlborough to set out clear objectives for the second half, knowing full well that they had just played their most disjointed half of hockey this season.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Marlborough in the ascendancy, but Westbury holding firm under the pressure. The game swung in Marlborough's favour following an incisive move down the left hand side with Freddie Hazlitt finding WIll Radnedge in space.
He carried the ball powerfully into the circle, drawing the defender in before spinning into the defenders foot to win the short corner. Marlborough chose to use their newest routine and executed it well with Will Hughes sliding in at the back post to finish at the second attempt.
This goal seemed to galvanise Westbury as an attacking force, but they only looked truly dangerous through sloppy play from Marlborough inside their own half.
Thankfully, Marlborough were able to adjust their formation to protect the middle of the pitch and these numbers allowed Marlborough to manage the game intelligently by winning the ball back and aiming to retain possession under the high pressing of Westbury.
Marlborough were given an excellent game by an impressive Westbury team who are fully expected to rise up the table as the season goes on.
This was the sort of game in which Marlborough would - in previous few seasons - have found a way to drop points. Now a real 'grind it out' attitude is being developed and making a big difference on the pitch.
The Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to Will Hughes for his fantastic energy in the forward line.