Ring-rusty Marlow prove too strong for Chalfont St Peter

Kameron English fired home Marlow’s opener.

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Having seen their most recent league fixtures against South Park and Bedfont Sports postponed due to the current COVID situation, Marlow came into Monday’s post-Christmas clash with bottom of the table Chalfont St Peter a little short on match practice.

However, if there was any ring-rustiness, or festive over- indulgence, it didn’t show as they overcame Aaron Steadman’s side pretty comfortably.

Kameron English fired the home side in front after only 14 minutes and substitute Jordan Brown completed the job with a second in the 65th minute. The Blues might have scored one or two more, but boss Mark Bartley was more than happy with the level reached by his players after having gone nearly two weeks without a competitive fixture.

He also added that these are the games the Blues are going to have to win if they’re to compete with the likes of Bracknell, Chertsey and Basingstoke for promotion this season.

“The pitch surface was a little tricky, but we were desperate to play because we were a few games behind most other sides,” said Bartley. “I can’t figure out how we can be so far behind everyone else. We’ve had a half-decent cup run but there are other clubs who’ve also done that and they’re games ahead of us.

“But we executed the game plan perfectly and felt we probably should have had one or two more goals as well.

“They came and played five across the back and didn’t give us much space. They tried to frustrate us, but we’d worked on how to deal with those situations.

“They’re a tougher, more resolute side now (under Aaron Steadman), but we went into the game thinking that if we want to be successful and be where the action is come the end of the season, then these are the kind of games we have to win.”

The Blues have had a few COVID cases in the camp, but they’re keen to ride out the current situation and ensure the season is completed on schedule. Chalfont were of a similar mindset so, if both teams had the requisite 13 players, then the game was always likely to go ahead. The Blues do have games to make up on their rivals. Leaders Bracknell, for example, have played four more league fixtures than them and have a healthy lead at the top, however, Bartley knows his side has the ability to cement a place in the play-offs this season at the very least.

“We’ve got to try and chase them (Bracknell) down,” he said. “We’re confident, and we don’t fear anyone in this league. We had a couple of tough results against Hanwell and Chertsey, but we’ve managed to go back to basics in recent weeks and pick up results. That’s the hallmark of where the team is at the minute.

“We’d have liked to have played a few more games as it would have got us into a better rhythm, but the players have trained hard and been responsive.”

On Saturday they’ll come up against some familiar faces when they visit Thatcham Town before hosting Binfield on Monday. Should they come out of those two fixtures will six more points on the board, the Blues can look forward to what should be a very good new year indeed.

“The games present different challenges,” said Bartley.

“Thatcham are high energy, and their results show that they score and concede quite a few goals.

They play on the front foot and worry more about scoring than conceding. Binfield are a bit more like Chertsey, they have a core of a side who’ve been together for a while and are well organised.

“If we come out of there with six points it will be a really great period for us.

“We’re not backwards in coming forwards.

“If it’s one of those games we’ll be prepared for it. Hopefully we’ll get a strong ref who can manage it well.”

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