Having been promoted last season Marlborough Hockey Club first team started their 2017/18 campaign at home against Cardiff University A who had also been promoted.
Historically the Conference North league has been a very tightly contested group. And with familiar sides, clubs and players in each team, Marlborough were very well aware that a strong start to the league season would be imperative if they are to stay in the division.
The game began in a positive way for the home side as they found space out on both flanks and were able to exploit these to create several excellent chances, none of which found the Cardiff net. The away side then began to establish themselves more with Marlborough weathering some pressure following several short corners.
The deadlock was broken when, against the run of play, Cardiff Uni scored a short corner where a number of passes finished with a tap in at the back post. Marlborough were quick to respond with a short corner of their own, Rich Fynn’s pinpoint drag pass found Charlie Hawley’s open stick for a well worked deflection.
Tied 1-1 at half-time, Marlborough knew that they had to be more clinical in the second half.
As it had played out in the first half, Marlborough started the stronger and quickly retook the lead following a beautiful, flowing passing movement through the defence, midfield and attack. The end result was Rich Fynn tapping home in to an open goal.
In a sense of déjà vu Marlborough’s lead had evaporated before they had a chance to consolidate, again Cardiff Uni scoring from a short corner routine. This time a low flick on the left post left Marlborough scrambling and unable to make the save.
With both teams now in the game the result was there for the taking and both sides pressed high and aggressively in attempts to win the ball high up the field of play. Marlborough held their structure much better than the visitors and as a result soon began to find pockets of space well within their opponents half.
The pressure once again told for the visitors when Fynn netted his second of the game with a cunning short corner drag in to the opposite corner from Hawley’s opening goal.
Feeling in control of the game Marlborough were able to extend their lead further when young striker Alex Renwick went on a mazy run past several defenders before being ‘cut down’ by the Cardiff keeper. The result, a penalty flick which was coolly converted by Marlborough skipper Anil Sud to further increase the lead.
Fully in the driving seat now Marlborough pressed home and Hawley picked up his second goal of the game following another slick passing move all around the pitch.
The game seemingly done and dusted Hawley and defender Rich Holman thought that they would make things interesting by both receiving cards (yellow and green respectively) for what can only be described as agricultural tackling.
As a result the remaining players on the pitch had their work cut out for them in trying to keep the score the same! Marlborough lasted until the final two minutes before Cardiff were able to score again after tired Marlborough legs got the better of them.
The game ended 5-3 in Marlborough’s favour- a great opening start to the 2017/18 campaign and a minimum standard going forward.
Marlborough.news Man of the Match was Charlie Hawley.
THE SECOND TEAM ADDS:
Marlborough Hockey Club’s second men’s team had a ‘sobering start to the season. They travelled to Bristol on the day the M4 was closed by an accident, to play South Glos. Push back was delayed by their late arrival and the late arrival of an umpire.
And the game? “We lost 9-0. No hiding from the fact that it was pretty bad.” But they keep looking on the brightest sides they can find:
• Despite being spanked, the majority consensus was that we actually enjoyed the game a lot.
• Stepping up a league and playing a well-drilled first team is tough.
• Four of our team were playing for the thirds last year (including three teenagers), who all acquitted themselves admirably, which bodes very well for the future.
• With a bit more practice and nous (and luck) in the D we could easily have scored three or more goals.
• With a bit more practice and nous (and luck) in the D we could easily have conceded many fewer goals.
• For large portions of the game we competed really very well.
• They were clinical in the final quarter of the pitch.
• Elsewhere in our league Buccs E lost 12-1, so we’re not bottom of the table.
Marlborough.news Man of the Match goes to Ed Kendall for a very promising performance in his first league match for the seconds.