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Hockey: hail & frustration - with many chances Marlborough ladies rue those elusive goals

Marlborough      0          Salisbury        2


Marlborough felt very optimistic going into this week's game following on from their confident win in their last match.

From the first whistle Marlborough piled on the pressure with early attacking play from Alice Fanshaw, Milly Dawson, Alice Thompson and Catherine Manley. The ball remained in the home team's attacking third for most of the first half thanks to Marlborough's superior press organised from the back by Rachel Cox and Anna Scott.  

Despite all this Marlborough were repeatedly denied a goal by the experienced Salisbury keeper who skillfully managed to save a great number and variety of attempts on her goal.

Salisbury were always waiting to pounce and were very quick on the break when the opportunity arose. The Marlborough defence were made to work hard to catch the breaks and the few opportunities Salisbury had were dealt with efficiently.

Marlborough went into the second half believing it was just a matter of time before the breakthrough came. Once again Marlborough dominated the Salisbury goalmouth and once again the ball just wouldn't go in the goal.

Salisbury were always dangerous and quick on the break and frustrated Marlborough on a handful of occasions. Unable to capitalise from short corners or open play Marlborough began to become a little frantic.

Following a dramatic hailstorm which turned the blue pitch white, Salisbury maintained their composure and leapt on a momentary loss of concentration to score within the last ten minutes of the game.

With momentum of the game suddenly changed in Salisbury's favour, it was not long before they added a second leaving Marlborough in despair over what should have been.

The score line did not reflect how well Marlborough played and the home side can take many positives from the game. Oh for that elusive goal!

Marlborough News Online player of the match went to Rachel Cox for her attacking and defensive role at centre midfield.

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Hockey: "Just about good enough..." - Marlborough men's shaky times & a fortunate winner

Old Bristolians   3    Marlborough   4

Marlborough's first league game after the Christmas break has traditionally not produced the best of results. So when they went 1-0 down to Old Bristolians following a poor defensive turnover, they could have been forgiven for thinking that they had their work cut out.

However they steadied the ship well and began to exert their dominance on the game with lots of pressure on the OB's circle. Marlborough started to turn this pressure into scoring opportunities, but the OB's defence stood firm with numerous blocks and saves to deny an equaliser.

Marlborough did eventually pull themselves level following a well placed flick by Rich Fynn which the OB's keeper could only deflect onto the body of one of his own players standing on the goal-line. With the umpire about to award the penalty stroke, Matt Way was able to react quickest to the loose ball and "prod" the ball over the line.

Following the equaliser, Marlborough began to force mistakes form the OB's back line which resulted in Alex Renwick winning the ball high up the pitch. He intelligently recycled the ball back to Rhys Davies who was working hard to get up with play.   

Davies managed to control the ball well under pressure and play it square to Matt Way who crashed it into the circle towards Will Radnedge who deflected it across goal and into the top corner of the net - a lovely team goal.

Marlborough looked to have survived the storm and were heading for half time when OB's were awarded a short corner following Chris Jones being hit in the head in the circle.  Fortunately the ball wasn't travelling at too great of a pace and so he was able to carry on.

However from the resulting corner OB's were awarded a penalty stroke when following Brian Marnane's first save the ball rebounded high into the air. With numerous bodies underneath the ball and stick's raised above head height play would normally stop and another corner be awarded, however in this instance the umpire decided it "wasn't dangerous" and so allowed play to continue.

The miss-hit from the OB's forward bounced into the turf and up into Chris Jones' body and a penalty stroke was duly awarded.  Brian Marnane was left with no chance with a flick dispatched low to his right and into the sideboard.

Half time at 2-2 and Marlborough knew that OB's would come out with a renewed energy. Once again Marlborough found themselves behind in the game when they conceded a third goal early in the second half due to some more uncharacteristic defending.

Having to chase the game Marlborough upped their intensity and applied high pressure to the OB's defensive line. This resulted in more turnovers inside the OB's half with continued territorial advantage. To their credit OB's defended their circle resolutely and looked dangerous on the counter attack with their lively attacking line.

In the end, Marlborough's efforts were rewarded when they built the ball well to the baseline, Rich Fynn pulled the ball across and the first effort by Marlborough was saved well by the OB's keeper. However the rebound fell to John Berry, who had continued his run from midfield and he calmly slotted the ball into the open goal on his reverse.

OB's seemed to physically drop off with this goal and Marlborough were able to make it a fantastic come-from-behind victory after they scored a fortunate winner.  

John Berry was once again at the centre of it, carrying the ball well to the top of the circle. He saw a gap and drove hard into the circle and got his shot off, unfortunately for OB's, their keeper had misjudged the situation and allowed the ball to roll into the corner of the goal.

Not the way in which you would want to win a game, but Marlborough felt they deserved the victory for their territorial dominance in the game despite some excellent counter-attacking play from OB's.   As one Marlborough player said: "Just about good enough..."

Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to John Berry for his involvement in most of Marlborough's positive forward play.

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Hockey: Marlborough ladies firsts in seventh heaven as Milly Dawson scores four

The goalie was hoarse from shouting encouragement - etcThe goalie was hoarse from shouting encouragement - etcMarlborough    7      Devizes     0

After a slightly pedestrian start to 2017 the previous week (a three-all draw in a friendly against Wootton Bassett), Marlborough were keen to open the return leg of their league campaign in style.

Taking three points at home against league-strugglers Devizes was the only acceptable outcome, and after the pitch was given the ‘thumbs-up’, the team were raring to go.

A well-drilled warm-up led by Rachel Cox and team-talk from captain Penny Bowen got the team in the right mindset and they felt in control from the first whistle, demonstrating tempo and passion that Devizes were unable to match.

Possession was relatively even in the first quarter, but territory very much in Marlborough’s favour, and after a penetrating attack down the right flank, Ness Pickford-Smith slotted the first home to break the 0-0 deadlock.

Resident terrier, Lottie Colquhoun, was up to her usual tricks, hunting down every Devizes loose ball and placing their defenders under real pressure. Her efforts were soon rewarded with a goal - a fitting way to finish her season before she goes travelling.

Marlborough started the second half positively, attempting to improve their goal difference that could prove crucial in a tight league table. What followed was sensational.

In what can only be described as a bombing raid, Milly Dawson then slotted away four goals in quick succession, ably fed by a supporting cast of Neve Beer, Catherine Manley and new-comer Alice Thompson.

It didn’t all go Marlborough's way, with Devizes testing their defensive line on occasions. However, Anna Scott, Annabel Ashley, Amy Davidson, Beth Palfrey and Tori Williams all held firm and Devizes rarely troubled keeper Vicky Moxham.

Whilst her pads may not have been kept busy however, her vocal chords definitely were! The icing on a pretty successful cake was a final goal scored from a tight angle by Neve Beer, with a significant ‘assist’ from the unfortunate Devizes keeper.  Neve had been unlucky not to score a few minutes earlier from an impressive undercut, and this final goal seemed just reward.

Marlborough News Online Player of the Match was shared between goal-demon Milly Dawson and centre-half Rachel Cox, who deserves the final shout out for her fantastic work rate, tackling and ball distribution throughout the game.

All in all, a very successful day at the office, setting Marlborough up for a meeting with top of the league Bournemouth next weekend.

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Hockey: Marlborough men stay top of the table after tricky drawn game

Team captain Anil SudTeam captain Anil SudTeam Bath Buccs C        1        Marlborough      1

Marlborough maintained top spot on the Central 1 league table with a hard fought draw away against second placed Team Bath Buccs C.

Marlborough took the lead early on when they stole the ball high up the field and John Berry managed to ride two very 'agricultural' tackles before slotting the ball into the far corner of the goal.

Unfortunately, Marlborough's chances of winning the game took a serious dent when John Berry was unable to play any further part in the match.

Marlborough played some very composed hockey in the first half, transferring the ball well and creating space high up the pitch.  But despite several chances Marlborough were unable to extend their lead and Bath began to grow further into the game on the counter attack.

At half-time Marlborough knew they were up against it, down to the bare eleven against a sixteen man squad of energetic students wasn't an ideal situation.

The second half started with Bath beginning to establish more of a foothold in the game, creating several half-chances which Brian Marnane was alert to and saved well.

Unfortunately the change in momentum was being 'helped' by many 50/50 decisions going Bath's way and they were able to draw level following a quickly taken free hit outside the D. With the Marlborough players expecting the hit to go their way they were caught out of position and Bath worked the ball to the baseline. The first attempt was well blocked, but the rebound was played towards goal and left Brian Marnane helpless.

It was obvious that this could be a season defining last twenty minutes and Marlborough began to re-establish themselves as an attacking threat. Some excellent ball carrying through the inside left channel from Will Radnedge enabled him to win Marlborough a short corner with ten minutes to go.

From the corner, Captain Anil Sud slipped the ball towards the back post looking for a deflection. No touch was forthcoming, but the ball bounced back off the post and fell to Rich Fynn, who trapped the ball and fired into the open goal.

Disappointingly the goal was disallowed by one of the Bath umpires as he deemed the ball hit Rich Fynn's foot.

To their credit, Marlborough retained their composure and stuck to the game plan, despite Will Radnedge receiving a green card for 'tackling from the wrong side'. The last ten minutes played out with Bath in the ascendancy and Marlborough resolutely defending their circle.

The game appeared to be over with Worcester Bawden providing an excellent covering tackle to clear the ball away from goal, however, after complaints from the Bath team a short corner was awarded with Worcester judged to have deliberately played the ball over the baseline.

One final chance for Bath and Marlborough players knew the importance of the moment. Fortunately Bath were unable to take advantage of the situation following a poor injection and the ball never leaving the circle.

With the final whistle there were very mixed emotions from the Marlborough team. They knew the potential significance of picking up a point but also felt they had done enough to win the game despite some very challenging circumstances.

They now sit at the top of the league going into the Christmas break, two points ahead of Team Bath Buccs. With Bristol University losing, Marlborough now have a seven point cushion ahead of third place.

Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to Brian Marnane who once again kept Marlborough ahead in the game at a time when they were really under pressure in the first half.

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Hockey: Marlborough men back to winning ways - despite a team thinned by injuries

Brian Marnane - Marlborough News Online Man of the MatchBrian Marnane - Marlborough News Online Man of the MatchMarlborough        3           Wootton Bassett      1

Marlborough put last week's surprise defeat behind them in an efficient and professional manner in their home game against Wootton Bassett (December 3).

Injuries were beginning to mount leaving the squad thin on the ground. The lack of fit defensive players forced Marlborough to make a tactical shift away from the formation which has served them so well in the season to date.

Marlborough started the game in a slightly shaky way as they adjusted to the new passing angles and defensive responsibilities. Some intelligent covering defence keep the scoreline level.

As they began to find their feet, Marlborough started to dominate both possession and territory. They opened the scoring when Matt Way took a quick free hit just outside the attacking 25, he played the ball in towards the P spot where Rich Fynn had found space inside the circle and deftly turned the ball into the far corner of the goal - one straight off the training ground.

Their lead was extended following good play down the right hand side of the pitch. The Wootton Basset keeper made the first save, but the rebound was gathered by Will Radnedge who calmly rounded a last ditch tackle before flicking the ball into the goal from a tight angle.

Marlborough's two goal lead was held into half time thanks to several smart saves from Brian Marnane who once again showed his value to the team.

The message at half time was simple: don't drop standards and the game would be won.

Marlborough started the second half well with their adapted press forcing Bassett to rush their attempts at clearing ball and allowing Marlborough to win several high turnovers.

It was from one of these where they extended their lead in a carbon copy of the first goal - with Matt Way once again playing the ball into Rich Fynn. This time their keeper made the initial save, but Rich Fynn collected his own rebound and slotted it calmly into the net.

Marlborough continued to press for another, but then conceded a goal from a well taken dragflick. This meant there were some nerves through the last ten minutes, especially when reduced to 10 men following a very harsh Green card for vice captain Will Radnedge.

Marlborough held firm with some intelligent game management and got themselves back on track in their bid for promotion. They now go into their top of the table clash away at Bath Buccs full of confidence and look forward to seeing several players back to full fitness.

Marlborough News Online man of the match was awarded to Brian Marnane for some very timely saves to preserve the two goal lead going in to half time.

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Hockey: in tightly fought contest Marlborough ladies first team just miss draw with West Wilts

Sarah KendallSarah KendallMarlborough     3         West Wilts         4

After last weeks rain-drenched game at Swanage, Marlborough were very pleased to have a home fixture in the sunshine! The visitors were local rivals West Wilts who were sitting second in the league. 

A strong start was required by Marlborough to exert great pressure on the opposition and get them on the back foot from the off - and this is what the home side achieved.

Marlborough's attacking formation paid off and with some great linking between the forwards and midfield more and more pressure was put on West Wilts which resulted in a goal within the first ten minutes, scored by Jess Pugh who skillfully out-manoeuvred the opposition in their goalmouth.

Unfortunately Marlborough's strangle hold on the game could not be maintained and the visitors started stringing together plays testing the home sides defence. However great team work and tackling from Emily Carter-Davies, Beth Palfrey, Amy Davidson, Victoria Williams and Annabel Ashley kept these attacks at bay.

Then two West Wilts goals in quick succession gave Marlborough a shock but spurred them into action. Marlborough were resilient and continued to work hard, mid field held the middle of the park and then connected with Lottie Colquhoun up front who skillfully moved the ball around the goalkeeper to put the ball in the back of the net.

The game then opened up with the play bouncing back and forth from one goal mouth to the other. Once more West Wilts took the lead and once more Marlborough counter attacked and with intense pressure on the goalmouth Jess Pugh scored her second goal of the game. Then the whistle blew for half time.

After a motivating half time team talk by Sarah Kendall, Marlborough knew on paper that their squad could beat this team, but they needed to modify their game plan to secure a victory.

The second half was a very edgy affair with both sides evenly matched. Both sides attacked with great set plays, both defences and goalkeepers held firm and the spectators were treated to some free flowing end to end hockey.

Unfortunately for Marlborough West Wilts were awarded a short corner in the final ten minutes which resulted in a goal. Despite their best efforts Marlborough just could not find the equaliser in the short time left. The closely fought game finished 4-3 to West Wilts.

Marlborough ladies finish the first half of the league season seventh in the league with a great team spirit evident. After a well-deserved break for Christmas, the team look to improve their league position in the second half of the season. 

Marlborough News Online player of the match was awarded to Sarah Kendall.

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