Marlow battle to top spot
Marlow eventually saw off a determined Westwood team by the odd goal of five as they slipped into top spot of the TVPL
It is oft said that good teams win when not playing well and that certainly applied yesterday as United turned in their least impressive performance off the season as they fought hard to contain a lively Westwood team.
The visitors were fast out of the blocks, their midfield dictating much of the early play without testing debutant home keeper Partridge.
United looked dangerous down the flanks with both Fox and Gumbs causing the Westwood defence problems with some surging runs and it was the latter who opened the scoring on 16 minutes having picked up a Hurst pass before running on and firing past the Westwood custodian Barnes from around 12 yards.
The visitors had Dowling booked for a dangerous tackle on Thomas a minute later and soon after a Namyslak header found an unmarked Hurst who was ruled offside.
Westwood hit back with a disputed goal on 21 minutes.
Following a scramble in the United area which saw Partridge save with his feet, the ball was played back into the 6 yard box were a suspiciously offside looking Alex Sargent slid the ball over the line.
United responded the best way possible by retaking the lead within a minute with James Namyslak picking up the ball on the left edge of the visitors area, riding two tackles before slotting the ball past a despairing Barnes.
The game swung back and forth with the visitors giving as good as they took although it was United who packed the greater threat with OMeally’s pace causing problems.
A Fox Hurst one two saw the latter’s shot saved and Hardie saw his headed effort from a Fox corner cleared off the line.
The half ended with Parsons, on for the injured Prudden, shooting wide after he, Thomas and Gumbs combined in the area.
Marlow opened up a two goal lead within two minutes of the restart, this after another surging run by Gumbs resulted in the ball finding Thomas who slipped the ball into the unmarked O,Meally who scored from the edge of the six yard box.
If Marlow thought the game was won they forgot to mention it to Westwood who continued to harass and fight for every ball.
Sure enough on the hour a free kick played into the United area was met with a looping header from Westwood’s Cuthbert, the flight of the ball defeating a retreating Partridge and dropping under the crossbar into the net.
Marlow had a difficult 30 minutes to negotiate if they were to avoid a repetition of losing a two goal lead as against YMCA.
Thomas saw a cross from the left evade two onrushing forwards and United saw the ball come off the far post from a Thomas corner shortly after.
They bought on Ollie Flint to add some steel to the midfield and the returning club captain was soon in the thick of the action winning a number of 50/50 challenges but still Westwood threatened an equaliser.
Partridge was forced into a diving save from a free kick followed by a save with his feet with the ball being played back into the area where a late tackle felled the visitors player amidst vociferous appeals for a penalty, waved away by both the referee and his assistant who had a perfect view.
United appeared to have got away with that incident and surged up field with Hurst collecting the ball before playing a perfect cross into the feet of unmarked O’Meally who just 3 yards from goal proceeded to knock the ball wide off the far post.
Clarke replaced the disappointed O’Meally for the final few minutes as Marlow saw out the game without further scares to collect the three points that takes them top off the league by the slenderest one goal difference margin.
With no game next week owing to County Cup fixtures Marlow have to sit and watch their rivals battle to take that top spot with four of the favourites playing each other, YMCA entertaining Wraysbury and Cookham at home to Woodcote.
Partridge, Gumbs, Mckie, Rockall, Fox, Hardie, Namyslak, Thomas, O’Meally, Prudden, Hurst.
Parsons for Prudden 31
Flint for Namyslak 73
Clarke for O’Meally 87
J Gumbs 16
J Namyslak 22
N O’Meally 47
J Gumbs 8
D Rockall 7
A Mckie 8
J Fox 7
J Hardie 7
J Namyslak 6
Q Thomas 6
N O’Meally 6
F Prudden 6
C Hurst 6
A Parsons 7
O Flint 7