06:58PM, Saturday 01 February 2020
Marlow 3, Westfield 0
Marlow produced a performance which suggests they're more than capable of finishing in the play-offs after comfortably beating title-challenging Westfield despite being reduced to nine men.
In a game that was overshadowed by a poor refereeing display, as well as a 22-man melee just after the final whistle, Marlow produced a dominant display to deservedly send their visitors home with nothing to show for their efforts.
First half goals from Curtis Ujah and Jordan Brown, the second from the penalty spot, were complimented by an instinctive finish by Adam Richards in the second half. But that doesn't tell half of the story in a game which saw a plethora of cautions, two red cards - both for Marlow - and a penalty apiece for both teams.
Marlow came into the game some way off the play-off places, but boosted by the return of Jordan Edwards and Jay Welch to the club. Both played a key role in the side's run to the play-offs last season and Bartley will be hoping they can once again help the side make up the points needed for a top five finish.
The Blues led after only five minutes and it was their barrel-chested centre half Ujah who got it. Edwards, who played brightly throughout, floated a free kick into the Westfield area and Ujah outmuscled his marker, chested the ball down and thumped it past Gary Ross.
Bartley would already have been thinking that decisions were going against his side, and he will have been stunned when Harry Scott pointed to the penalty spot in the 18th minute. Goalkeeper Simon Grant was already sweeping up the ball when Isaac Olorunfemi appeared to tug back Aaron Watson. It was a harsh decision but justice was served when Grant guessed right to keep out Tinashe Nkoma's spot-kick. It was the keeper's fourth penalty save in the space of a few days after his match-winning display in the county cup penalty shoot out against Maidenhead United.
The first half then became a tale of two penalties, when Scott played a useful advantage for the home side after Kameron English had been fouled and Devontae Romeo darted on into the box only to be tripped. This time, after a lengthy delay for treatment to the Westfield keeper Ross, the penalty was scored, Brown sending Ross the wrong way in cool fashion on 29 minutes.
Romeo's contribution to the game was cut short in the 44th minute, however, when he made a sweeping challenge to help on the ball and took out Westfield right-back Jack Dean. The Marlow midfielder caught the player a split-second late but his studs weren't up and there was stunned silence when Scott pulled out the red card.
So, down to 10 men with a two goal lead at the interval, the next goal was going to be vital, and, fortunately for Marlow, it went their way and killed off any remaining spirit Westfield had.
It followed the visitor's best chance of the match when substitute Kensley Maloney volleyed wide at the far post in the 55th minute.
Again Ujah was involved, directing a brilliant downward header at goal from Edwards' delivery. Ross made a wonderful reaction save but the ball spewed out to Richards who hammered home the Blues' third.
After that it was a case of a resolute Blues defence holding Westfield at bay. But there was one more baffling and infuriating decision still to come from the referee.
In the 73rd minute, English made a routine challenge as he looked to close down his man on the far side of the field. You could argue it was a foul, that at worst merited a caution. So there was utter bewilderment when Scott reached for another red card.
But by that stage it was clear that Westfield weren't at the races, even against nine men. They huffed and puffed but created nothing worthy of note. In fact the best chance in the final minutes saw another of the Marlow subs, Kelvin Bossman, force Ross into a save.
The final whistle saw tempers flare, with a Westfield player appearing to throw a punch before players from both teams became involved in an altercation. You'd have thought that a punch would have merited a red card but on this occasion the referee kept his cards in his pocket.
A bizarre game of football but one which Marlow certainly deserved to win, and comfortably so. On the evidence of today you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Marlow that were the side just three points off top spot.
Marlow sit 12th in the table, still 11 points off the top five, ahead of Tuesday's visit to fifth placed Uxbridge.
Marlow FC: Grant, Chapple, Olorunfemi, Ujah (Caesar 58'), Richards, Rogers, Edwards, English, Romeo, Artwell (Welch 74'), Brown (Bossman 59'). Subs not used: Osei-Tutu, Marsh-Brown.
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