Marlborough 1 Hereford 0
In the blazing spring sunshine of a rare April fixture, Marlborough Ladies finally turned their festival-style hockey into a result against mid-table Hereford.
This was the final game of the season and with no pressure on the Marlborough team, they were out to get a win and enjoy the day.
In the first half, the ball pinged left to right as Rachel Jackson marshalled the middle and Philippa Brown on the right and Beth Palfrey on the left found acres of space.
With Rachel Cox, Sophie Fynn and Lottie Colquhoun always looking dangerous with their penetrating runs, Marlborough pressed strongly into the Hereford D supported by Catherine Manley and Milly Dawson.
With a few Marlborough short-corners just inching wide or high, all Hereford could muster were crash balls through the middle which were capably dealt with by the Marlborough defence of Sarah Kendall, Ness Pickford-Smith, Julie Fellows and the ever lively Vicky Moxham.
However, as the sides changed ends at 0-0, Marlborough's loyal but long-suffering supporters and coach must have felt a strong sense of déjà vu.
The eventual breakthrough for the home team came as Rachel Jackson teed up a cute pass from the middle of the field to Rosie Curling who drove the ball towards the goal then along the base line setting up Sophie Fynn to finish off the move for her first goal for the club. And what a precious goal it was!
The drama was not to finish there, however, as Heather Barnes drove once again for goal, but her now customary header of the ball merely resulted in further make-up dilemmas ahead of the team night out, and Rachel Cox too proved an injury magnet as Hereford could not live with her silky skills.
Despite a series of Hereford short-corners, Marlborough's defence once again proved just too good and the team held out for a well-deserved 1-0 win.
As one of the team explained: "It's an excellent result to finish off a frustrating, but highly enjoyable season. Even if it was not fully appreciated by the next generation of players who all seemed to snooze the entire way through the drama in their prams!"
Marlborough News Online player of the game was awarded to Sophie Fynn for her tireless work in the opposition's 23 and, of course, for the all important goal.
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."