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Hockey: despite a spirited end to the season Marlborough Ladies are relegated

Newent    3         Marlborough      3

After a long trip north Marlborough were to face tough opposition from Newent, who were second in the table.

The home side needed a win to remain in contention to win the league and Marlborough needed a win to have a slim hope of avoiding relegation. With so much resting on results elsewhere in the league, the pressure was off and Marlborough were going out to cause an upset.

Marlborough started strongly pushing Newent deep into their own half and the forwards' movements were quick allowing the wide ball to be picked up and the D attacked. The home side were very much on the back foot but were also quick on the attack so Marlborough needed to be careful.

This pressure paid off and Marlborough were first on the scoresheet with a very slick penalty routine: Becki Marnane passing to a waiting Sophie Fynn whose shot was expertly deflected into the net by Rosie Buckley.

Marlborough upped the pace of their attacks, but a Newent break and a very bubbly ball gave them an easy goal. In the last play before half time a penalty was awarded to Marlborough and Rachel Cox calmly stepped up, wrong footing the goalkeeper, and smashed the ball into the back of the net.

The second half started off in a similar vein to the first with Marlborough mounting increasing pressure on the home side. Another penalty corner and another Marlborough goal with a straight strike from Rachel Jackson scoring her first goal for the club.

This third goal seemed to wake Newent up and they started showing why they are second in the league. A battle was on!

Ness Pickford-Smith took a nasty ball to the knee and Rachel Cox broke a finger, but as Marlborough did not have the luxury of any subs both battled on courageously.

Marlborough dug deep and fought hard to hold onto their lead.  But a well drilled corner routine and some intense pressure in Marlborough's D put the scores level at three all.

Newent smelt blood, but Marlborough were desperate to deny them and get the win themselves - so the last ten minutes was a frantic affair with neither side able to get ahead.

A courageous and determined performance by a Marlborough team very much on the up.  Though unfortunately a resurgence just too late to keep the team in the Premier Division 2A.

At their last game of the season (April 2) Marlborough aim to show the visiting Hereford team how much they have improved.

Marlborough News Online player of the match was awarded to Rachel Cox well deserved for giving her all even with a broken finger - and her fantastic penalty goal.

"It was," Captain Vicky Moxham told Marlborough News Online, "A big result against second in the table.  Unfortunately it has all come together too late in the season and we have been relegated."

"There is a lot of positivity about next season and determination to start where we left off playing good hockey and hopefully getting lots of goals. Every opposition captain I have spoken to since Christmas has said they can't understand why we are at the bottom of the league as we are really tough opposition!"

"The last two seasons have been tough having lost a good proportion of the team over the summer on both occasions. This year I think we may only lose two or three which out of a settled squad of 16 doesn't disrupt things too much."

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Hockey: despite a run of seven victories Marlborough's men just miss league promotion

L to r: Back Row: Rich Fynn, Brian Marnane, Ed Watson, John Berry.  Second row: John Bromley, Chris Jones, Will Hodge.  Third row: Anil Sud, Rich Holman, Matt Way.  Front row: Alex Renwick, Rhys Davies, Ollie Davies.L to r: Back Row: Rich Fynn, Brian Marnane, Ed Watson, John Berry. Second row: John Bromley, Chris Jones, Will Hodge. Third row: Anil Sud, Rich Holman, Matt Way. Front row: Alex Renwick, Rhys Davies, Ollie Davies.Sidmouth & Ottery     1     Marlborough     3                        

After the long trip down to the coast for a day in the sun and on the pebbly beach of Sidmouth, Marlborough faced a team (March 5) on the rise since Christmas.  With nothing but a win being an option for Marlborough in their bid for promotion, the game promised to be an attacking affair with no shortage of hairy moments for both sides.

Sidmouth started the stronger of the two sides and Marlborough goalkeeper Brian Marnane was called into action in the first few minutes of the game making a splendid double save from close range.  An early warning shot across the bows of the visiting vessel.  

Marlborough responded with several near misses of their own and certainly had the better of the play for the majority of the first half with quick attacks down both flanks.  Only the final killer ball was missing.

For the opening minutes of the second half neither team was able to score - until Will Radnedge snuck in at the far post for a controversial deflection goal following a short corner routine.  Sidmouth felt slighted by the decision and upped their efforts which looked on the rise until a marauding run from central defender Will Hodge left both sides speechless.  

Hodge picked the ball up near the half way and with a burst of unexpected pace, he rifled down the right hand side, past several players before slotting the ball home from an impossible angle…I don’t know what to say!

Stunned by this Sidmouth pulled a goal back quickly before Marlborough veteran defender John Bromley put the game to bed with a sensational slap hit on a short corner routine.

On the whistle it was 3-1.   With the game finished Marlborough enjoyed a well earned ice cream on the beach.  But sadly results elsewhere in the league were not in their favour.

The Marlborough News Online man of the match was Will Radnedge.

A close encounter in front of the UWE goalA close encounter in front of the UWE goalMarlborough  2    Bristol UWE A    0                        

With promotion now an impossibility due to the week's previous results, Marlborough turned up to the last game of the season (March 12) determined to go out on a high.  After almost a decade in charge of the first team skipper Richard Holman was stepping down, so this was a must win game.  

The amount of blood sweat and tears that Holman has invested in the development of the club during his tenure cannot be understated and as a result the rest of the Marlborough team were determined to garner him a final three points.

Despite their relegation UWE actually started the brighter of the two sides and used their pace to cause Marlborough some problems early on.  Soon Marlborough were able to get a grip on the game and from then on never really looked like relinquishing the momentum of the game.  

Ironically skipper Holman was only able to play 3 minutes before substituting himself with a calf injury.  That was probably a wise move considering he was due to run the Bath Half-marathon the following day - alongside fellow team members John Bromley and Anil Sud.

A close save by Marlborough's goalkeeperA close save by Marlborough's goalkeeperThat so nearly went over the lineThat so nearly went over the line

Marlborough were made to work heard for their first goal which turned out to be something straight from the training ground.  Newcomer Rich Fynn fired the ball to the back post in perfect timing with coach Matt Way’s run before coach Way deftly deflected the ball past the UWE keeper.  That is what I call good coaching!

The final play of the first half led to Marlborough's second goal when John Berry picked out Anil Sud for an easy finish as part of a short corner routine.  Two-nil at half time.

The second half began with UWE trying to press high, but the gaps created by this allowed Marlborough to flourish with several more near misses.  Marlborough completely dominated the second half but were unable to add to their lead and UWE could not muster much to bother the Marlborough defence and goalkeeper.    

Another win and just missing out on promotion was tough to take for Marlborough.  But there is plenty to look forward to next season.  

Following a heartfelt speech from their outgoing captain, members of Marlborough men’s section and the hockey club at large thanked Rich Holman for his huge efforts and exemplary leadership.

The Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was Richard Holman.Retiring Captain Rich Holman nursing his injured calf Retiring Captain Rich Holman nursing his injured calf


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Hockey: Marlborough ladies in tough and valiant fight at the foot of the league table


Back row l to r: Pete Crook (coach), Julie Fellows, Becki Marnane, Rosie Buckley, Vicky Moxham, Rachel Cox, Catherine Manley, Beth Palfrey, Philippa Brown.  Front row l to r: Rachel Jackson, Penny Bowen, Sarah Kendall, Ness Pickford-Smith, Sophie FynnBack row l to r: Pete Crook (coach), Julie Fellows, Becki Marnane, Rosie Buckley, Vicky Moxham, Rachel Cox, Catherine Manley, Beth Palfrey, Philippa Brown. Front row l to r: Rachel Jackson, Penny Bowen, Sarah Kendall, Ness Pickford-Smith, Sophie FynnMarlborough      0      City of Bath      1

This was always going to be a tense game with both teams fighting for their place in the league, made more so with only three point winning opportunities left in the season and both sides having league leading teams yet to play.
Marlborough started the game with their blood up, piling the pressure on City of Bath’s defence and taking early opportunities to test the keeper. Catherine Manley, Rebecca Marnane and Rosie Curling opened their attack with business-like efficiency, wasting no time in getting amongst City’s defence and threatening their goal.

Within the opening five minutes of the game Marlborough had scored with Catherine picking up a pass across the keeper and slotting it home. The perfect start! However, the umpires denied Marlborough their first goal, citing obstruction against a City player in the lead-up play.

Undeterred Marlborough went back to the hunt, moving the ball around the pitch with confidence and panache, demonstrating the progress they have made during the second half of the season. The back line of Julie Fellows, Vanessa Pickford, Phillippa Brown and Beth Palfrey stepped up the pitch, allowing the midfield to become more attacking and putting yet more pressure on City’s defence as the ball was played equally well down both sides.

Another goal! This one came from a strike by Rachel Jackson outside the D and deflected into the goal. Sadly the deflection came off a City stick so Marlborough were left wanting again. Surely a genuine lead must be coming for Marlborough.

The wall of red...The wall of red...City of Bath's hectic defence after short corner City of Bath's hectic defence after short corner

City of Bath meanwhile had been struggling for possession and their few forays into Marlborough’s defensive half had brought them little joy, leaving Marlborough’s keeper, Vicky Moxham, unthreatened.

Marlborough continued to dominate the play although the initial fervour had settled somewhat. Another well-hit strike just outside the D from Rachel Jackson hit City’s backboard again, unfortunately once again devoid of a Marlborough touch in the D - so disallowed.

Despite a few short corners being won, Marlborough were unable to capitalise allowing City of Bath to settle into the game and build their own confidence, gaining a foothold in the match despite a few of their players gaining warnings for their physicality when tackling.

Some good defensive work from the back line, now including Sarah Kendall, and supportive tracking back from the forward line meant City’s increasing attacks were mopped up without incident and they were unable to score from their only short corner in the first half.

At the half time whistle Marlborough had had three resounding knocks on City’s back board, but the score remained 0-0.
An intense half time talk preceded Marlborough’s return to the pitch.  Marlborough attacked from the whistle with a series of passes leading to Rebecca Marnane driving the ball down the pitch, setting the pace for the following ten minutes of play.

Despite Marlborough’s best efforts, they were unable to score from a succession of short corners won by the skill and determination of the attacking players, both forwards and midfield (and even the defence in some cases!). Rachel Jackson worked the ball tirelessly into the D during this spell, ensuring a shot or short corner from the majority of her efforts.

However, Marlborough could not maintain this level of intensive attack indefinitely and in the middle of the second half City of Bath enjoyed a period of improved possession and began to increase the pressure on Marlborough’s defence.

City of Bath's goal City of Bath's goal Like Marlborough, they had no joy from a handful of short corners and Marlborough defenders closed down any attempts on goal quickly. City continued working the ball well through the midfield and the experience they had within their team began to show. The fateful passage of play came down City’s right, a cross from the right of the D and a deflection from the P spot lead to a goal for City. This one stood.

Galvanising themselves, Marlborough returned to the attack and despite peppering City’s defence with attacks from all areas of their defensive 25, Marlborough were not able to find a way past the keeper and into the goal.

The skill, effort and determination shown by the Marlborough players was herculean and City defended with 11 players in their defensive third for the remainder of the game, putting a wall of red in front of the goal.

The final whistle went. Against the run of play City of Bath had won 1-0.

Despite the score line there are a number of positives for Marlborough to take away from this game. They played with fluency and confidence on the ball, showing good unity in the press and a real hunger for goals - which will undoubtedly come in time.

The midfield and forwards rotated seamlessly and covered each other well with improving communication between and within the lines. They are certainly a team on the up as their run of recent points has proven and with a number of new players to bed into the team the future is looking exciting.
With next week’s fixture away against top of the league Newent, Marlborough will be looking to build on their form and see if they can pull off a surprise, but deserved result next week.
Marlborough News Online player of the match was awarded to the whole team for their valiant and unrelenting effort .



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Hockey: Swindon go top of the table leaving Marlborough Ladies close to relegation

Swindon          4        Marlborough        0

After weeks of trying to rearrange this postponed match, Swindon and Marlborough finally played this catch up league game under the floodlights on Thursday night (March 10.)   

For Swindon, who were then sitting in second place in the league, a win would leap frog them over Newent to the top spot.  Marlborough knew they had to get their heads in the game right from the start - and that’s just what they did with a tight cohesive warm up.

Marlbrough hit Swindon hard in the first ten minutes with a high and intense work rate form the forwards and especially from midfielder Rachel Jackson.

Then Swindon started to take control of the game putting together some very fast well controlled attacks penetrating into the Marlborough half.  Fifteen minutes in, concentration slipped for a second and a skillful Swindon player managed to break through round the back, slipping the ball across the goalmouth to a player waiting in front of goal.  

With Marlborough’s confidence shaken, their form and communication began to break up, leading to structural holes which Swindon capitalised on - producing two perfectly timed and executed deflection goals.

After a wobbly first half, Marlborough came together at half time with their coach, Peter Crook, who refocused them and put confidence back into the team.
Marlborough’s structure in the second half was much better with the defence being held by Vanessa Pickford's strong consistency and good balls from Julie Fellows that were picked up by the forwards.

From this, the team had some shots at goal - with a narrow miss from Catherine Manley and ruthless play from Penny Bowen which gained the team a short corner.

The team began to put the pressure back on Swindon’s defence with some attacking play and turnover balls from Heather Barnes, and a high and intense work rate from Rachel Cox upfront that did not go unnoticed.

Swindon had confidence around their backs which resulted in a long ball across from the right leading to a hard pass down the left side for a Swindon player to pick up. With a diagonal attack across the pitch and some tackles made in the D, Swindon managed to get a rather scrappy fourth goal.
So the game finished 4-0 to Swindon - a well-formed team with some great individual talent.

A frustrating game for Marlborough, but a good one none the less to move the #girlsingreen forward onto Saturday’s home game against City of Bath at 11:15 (March 12.)  This is a crucial bottom of the table clash - one which Marlborough must win to avoid relegation.

A special mention and thanks must go to the Marlborough supporters who venture away matches and cheer the team on. They are much appreciated by the team.

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Hockey: will Marlborough Ladies' win against Cheltenham be the League life-saver they needed?

Marlborough      1      Cheltenham Two        0

Going into this fixture while sitting at the bottom of the league table, this crucial game provided Marlborough with the opportunity for an important three points.
After a strong performance against Redland the previous week, the team were determined to convert this into a win.

The game started at very high intensity, with Cheltenham securing possession in the Marlborough half and getting some strong shots off towards the Marlborough goal.  The centre-back partnership of Ness Pickford and Julie Fellows, combined with Vicky Moxham in goal, were resilient at keeping the Cheltenham attacks at bay.

Special mention should also go to Philippa Brown and Beth Palfrey for their half-back performances throughout the game - both provided excellent outletting and robust defensive performances.

It didn’t take long for the Marlborough team to find their rhythm with some impressively skillful play and fantastic jump backs from the midfielders Rachel Cox, Rachel Jackson, Penny Bowen, and player of the match Sophie Fynn.

Following a pacey transfer around the defence, an accurate pass was put through from the midfield to forward Rosie Curling who took the ball to the space on the baseline and executed a fantastic shot at goal from a narrow angle which hit the sideboard to great delight from all in green.

There was some end to end hockey played between the goal and half time, with both teams securing short corners, but neither able to convert the set-piece into a goal.

Play during the second half was much the same, with attacking free-flowing hockey from both sides.  Marlborough’s revised press clearly played dividends, with forwards Catherine Manley, Becki Marnane, Heather Barnes, and Millie Dawson’s intensity offering an excellent platform and opportunities for Marlborough to counter.

Despite more pressure and goal mouth action mainly from the home team, Marlborough were not able to secure that cushioning second goal and the final score remained at 1-0.

 A crucial three points for the #girlsingreen who have a very important week ahead with six points on offer.

On Thursday (March 10) the team travel to second in the table Swindon for the local derby which was postponed in February. On the back of this week's performance confidence is high that there are points to be earned.

Then next Saturday (March 12) City of Bath, who are only two places and three points above Marlborough in the league table, travel to Marlborough. This will be a crunch game - as both sides are seeking to escape relegation. 

The Marlborough News Online player of the game was Sophie Fynn for her tireless play in attack.

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Hockey: Marlborough men's fourth win running puts league's second placed club under pressure pressure

Marlborough   2      Robinsons B         1                    

With only three games left to the end of the season and knowing only a win would do in their long-shot bid for promotion, Marlborough welcomed old foes Robinsons in what was sure to be a physical and hard fought game.

Marlborough controlled the game from the opening push back and passed the ball around with an assuredness which has been prevalent all season long - clearly a product of excellent coaching and commitment from all involved.

Marlborough were soon making strong, incisive moves down both flanks, but the final ball was always cut out by Robinsons' precise defending.

The tension mounted after Marlborough were unable to convert several short corners and chances from open play.  Then the home side's worst fears were realised when Robinsons broke away and  scored with an uncontested tap in from a yard out.  Marlborough did not panic, but upped their energy levels - to great effect.  

A beautiful flowing move down the left opened up the pitch for player/ coach/ striker/ sometime defender Matt Way to rifle the ball across the face of goal.  It was met by Rhys Davies for a deflection finish.  1-1 at half time.

The second half began with Marlborough in complete control and looking very threatening.  It was a credit to Robinsons that they held the score at 1-1 for so long - until Anil Sud scored with a strike from a short corner.  

The game was poised on a knife-edge as Marlborough attacked constantly, mainly through Will Radnege, who caused problems for the visitors all afternoon with both direct and elusive attacking play.  

Marlborough’s defence had little to do in the second half, but were kept on their toes once or twice when Robbies were able to break through the midfield.

The game ended 2-1 which keeps the pressure on North Somerset who are at present placed second in the Central 1 league. They are three points ahead of Marlborough - the top three teams have all played 20 games.

The Marlborough News Online man of the match was Will Radnege.  

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