Marls prove too tough

After a prolonged Christmas break, this was one of the rearranged league fixtures affected by the snow, Sidmouth not having played a league game for some six weeks.

Marlborough, recently relegated from Premier 2 and having played just below National League only two seasons ago, came with considerable experience of playing higher level hockey.

Sidmouth’s captain Ian Brown called upon an almost full strength team emphasising the need to do the basics well. The initial exchanges were evenly matched with Marlborough showing the advantage of two very quick young forwards who manoeuvred Sidmouth’s defence around allowing their skilful midfield to step up into attacking positions.

Ben Dormand and Ian Brown in the central defence were more than a match, making crucial tackles as Sidmouth managed to snuff out their threat. Not for the first time this season it was a master class in finishing from the opposition that led to the first goal which Sidmouth had little chance of defending. It became clear that Sidmouth were half a yard off the pace with Marlborough’s pacy and skilful youngsters forcing a spate of penalty corners.

From one of these, Marlborough scored a rather soft second goal but it had come from a period of intense pressure.

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Despite this set back Sidmouth continued to try and play an attacking game and, with Rowson finding his range with some pin point passing, both Wade and Powell were finding space behind Marlborough’s defence.

Finally, a good build up, involving Rowson and the dynamic Fitzgerald in midfield, had Marlborough’s defence on the backfoot, which enabled Powell to take the ball wide right in the circle and drill it past the helpless keeper for a superbly-taken goal.

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Going into half time, Sidmouth were still very much in the game but, once again it was an inability to clear the defensive line that allowed a Marlborough player to have a clear and unopposed strike to open up a two goal lead again.

Unfortunately, it was a controversial penalty flick awarded to Marlborough that finally sealed a comfortable win for the opposition.

The analysis from Brown and coach Cole at the end was that it was both lack of fitness and an inability to hold attacking platforms that contributed to the defeat, both areas in which it is fair to say the opposition excelled.

The Man of the Match went to Ben Dormand for perhaps his best game of the season so far and once again thanks to Adrenalin Games for their continued sponsorship and generosity.

Sidmouth now head for South Wales on Saturday to play Cardiff & UWIC which will be another testing fixture.

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