Match report: Six of the Worst

* Apologies for delay in posting – being away I didn’t have login details on the phone

Rovers collapse to a huge second half defeat to a relentless Marlow side

The trip to Marlow may be long, but it never disappoints. The picturesque setting of the ground and the hospitality of the committee members always make the trip worthwhile for the visiting supporters.

Our line-up today sees one change from the game on Saturday, with Charlie Martin starting for the unavailable Courtney Swaby. The team’s bench also introduced debutant Ashley Sheppard.

Both sides are currently sitting mid-table on 3 points apiece, both having won one and lost one. Marlow’s recent track record included a dominant 4-1 away victory against Casuals, while they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Thatcham on their home turf. As a result, everyone anticipated a tough and closely contested encounter.

Before the kick-off, a respectful minute of silence was observed to mark the passing of Marlow’s former Chairman, Terry Staines, who had dedicated years of service to the club.

From the start, an early opportunity falls to Rovers from a corner, which Nabeel Ghannam swings deep to the far post, Antonio Simeone heading close but just wide. Good early signs. On 6mins a foul was given for impeding James Dillon as he was distributing. From the kick Ghannam attacks the defence but is brought down, but no free kick awarded.

Five minutes later an extraordinarily long throw from the Marlow no2 Elijah Oladunjoye looked dangerous, providing the opportunity for their centre forward Dawid Rogalski to shoot just wide – we will have to watch that. Excellent play from Max Oldham outside the Marlow penalty area creating himself space to play in Aaron Jenkins. Their defence couldn’t deal with Jenkins’ trickery but the ball was bundled out for another corner. Again taken by Ghannam, the central defender heading out, but only as far as Charlie Martin, whose shot was a yard over the bar. The chances were coming, but they have to hit the target.

A prolonged surge toward our 18yd box produced a succession of long throws from Oladunjoye, thankfully no damage done, but Rovers were not clearing their lines effectively. From a Dillon throw Jenkins holds the ball up well, slips the ball to Oldham on the left, who brings it inside and passes out to Danny Divine. Divine’s cross is spot on target, Conan Torpey flicking his header on to Jenkins who heads just over the bar. A promising passage of play from the Rovers, but still no reward.

Marlow’s Joshua Boorn picks up a pass from goalkeeper Aaron Watkins, who pings a useful ball in front of Dillon to Naheer-Omar Nawaf. Dillon deflects the shot out for a corner. From the corner-kick Dillon then punches clear. Our keeper is having a busy day!

On 24mins the deadlock is broken. Rhys Harper slipped past our back line and crosses to Nawaf, who wasn’t closed down. He pass left Benjamin Mulley with a straightforward chance. 1-0

Heads didn’t drop, though. 6mins later, Oldham again skips past his man, laying off to Martin, who adjusted his footing and struck a nice shot from 20yds, but his effort sailed over the bar.

In the 38th minute, from a poor Marlow corner, Bertie Lloyd heads the ball high to the edge of the 18yd box, leaving Torpey to clear, but in doing so bundles into his man giving away a penalty. Dawid Rogalski steps up, sends Dillon the wrong way and roles it in for Marlow’s second.

From a foul on Oldham at 25yds out, the free kick is headed clear to Martin, who plays it back to Jordan Wilson. Wilson crosses to Simeone whose header is nodded clear, but only as far as Oldham. His shot from a full 30yds drawing a brilliant left-handed save from the Marlow keeper – closest we’ve been yet. Just before the break Simeone cautioned for dragging down a Marlow forward.

At half time, there was still all to play for. Both Marlow’s goals were avoidable, and not a reflection on how Rovers were playing. 2-0 down at the break – still in it

Rovers make changes at half time, Isy Nzelo coming on for Lloyd, and by the 48th minute a glimmer of hope for Rovers. A great through ball from Ghannam plays in Jenkins whose strike finds the net by way of the inside of the right post, reducing the deficit and perhaps igniting a renewed spirit within the team.

It didn’t last long though. On 52mins a harsh handball decision awarded a penalty to Marlow. Ben Holden looked to have cleared the danger, but a point blank shot hit his arm, which he couldn’t do anything about. Thomas Soares restores the difference from the spot.

On 54mins, debutant Ashley Sheppard was brought on for Martin, as the game slowed down. Marlow were again comfortably ahead, and Rovers felt they had a mountain to climb. Torpey was then cautioned for a 50/50 tackle, which could have gone either way, but the cracks were beginning to show.

Holden does well to defend against both Harper and Rogaliski outside penalty area, breaking down another threat. Marlow’s Harrison Bayley is then brought on for Thomas Soares, and Rovers’ Siao Blackwood for Torpey.

On 68mins an uncharacteristic mistake from Dillon. As he tries to clear a ball chipped over the top from Marlow, Dillon mis-kicks, the ball dropping to Nawaf with an open goal 4-1 – the wheels are now beginning to fall off.

A rare chance in this half sees a poor clearance from Alex Salmon fall to Ghannam who does well pressing forward turning his man, but his pass to Jenkins was just a yard too far in front.

With 80mins gone, after a neat exchange between Marlow’s Curtis Chapple and Harper, a great solo effort by Harper, skipping past all in front of him for goal number 5. Adding insult to injury, nine minutes later Rogalski adds another. With two Rovers’ players down in the box injured, Rogalski was undeterred and wasted no time in netting their sixth and his second.

Having watched both games, from a novice onlooker point of view, we played better with 10 men on Saturday in the second half than we did with 11 today. Ok, never mind. Let’s forget about that one, and move on.