GHA 0 Marr 22

A somewhat subdued home support welcomed the arrival of Marr to Braidholm on a mild Saturday. Whilst last Saturday’s away defeat to Currie produced some very good play from GHA there was a feeling in the air that this week the visit of Marr would be a difficult obstacle to overcome as the Braidholm side look to secure points and climb up the table. A look through the Premier League will confirm that every match in this league is full of challenges.  As the life of the club returns to something approaching normality it was good to see that the club was quite busy with the Saturday pre-match dinner and of course the superb Play Your Cards Right game hosted by the one and only Bob Auld. Paolo has made continued progress to the new seating in the front rows of the stand creating a modern composite finish for the seating.

Both teams prepared carefully and there was a contrast in the body language of both sides. The home side worked quietly and in a determined mood. The visitors displayed an outward calmness which they would carry into the match. Once again our marvellous Junior Section provided a guard of honour as both sides took the field. There was also a delightful coaching display by the Junior Section at half time and it was especially pleasing to see a number of girls fully participating in the session.

The home side started strongly and were quickly inside the Marr twenty two metre area. Early drives by messrs Marinkovic, Brogan, Kerr and McCarthy asked questions of the visitors defence. However Marr were awarded a penalty to relieve the pressure and took play up to the Marr ten metre line. It was to become a feature of this match that good approach play by the home side working hard to create a dangerous attacking position would be negated by giving away a penalty or indeed losing the ball in turn over. The first ten minutes of the match saw play swing from one end of the pitch to the other as both sides  attempts  to make critical progress were shut down by stubborn and effective tackling.

The home side were working very hard to prise open the Marr rearguard but lovely work by messrs Crilly, MacFarlane Mollison and Lonergan  was consistently rebuffed by the Marr defence with the calm and highly influential clearance kicks of Conor Bickerstaff and Colin Sturgeon forcing the home side to turn and defend . The match remained finely balanced as we passed the fifteenth minute. A lovely move by the Marr backs which had engineered space inside the home rearguard broke down when a pass went astray with the possibility of a run in from the GHA twenty two metre area. This was another feature of the match as a number of passes went astray or were poorly executed by both sides. As a result a certain frustration built up amongst the players . Perhaps as both sides tried to assert dominance there was a need for calm and accurate execution of the basic skills which could have been productive.

As we reached the twenty sixth minute a superb break by messrs Lonergan and Mollison took play up to the Marr twenty-two area before the ball went loose in the tackle. From the resulting scrum George Baird (who with his back row allies made clean delivery from the Marr scrum half very difficult throughout the match) and Milan Marinkovic and Walker Graham and Luke McCutcheon were alive to any attempt by the Marr scrumhalf to break out. As we reached the half-hour mark neither side had been able to establish a platform to launch a telling move. This was largely due to the highly effective tackling throughout the sides who were lining up at time to knock down any attempts by breakaway units to force a way through. This did not stop Michael Fox and James Mcarthy Adam Kerr and Tony Brogan hammering away at the purple defence with great close support from the rest of the pack and messrs Baird and Crilly constantly looking to launch an attack. The very solid response and clever relieving chips by  Marr’s Sturgeon and Bickerstaff meant that progress for the home side was stymied repeatedly. Marr began to put some concerted pressure on the home defence as we moved towards the interval using a combination of forward drives, mid field crash ball and penetrating kicks by the masterful Conor Bickerstaff to drive the home side deep into their own half. A penalty award to the visitors inside the GHA five metre line sent alarm bells ringing as Marr used their forwards to take the ball into contact and get over the goal line. Thus after just over half an hour played the score was: GHA 0 MARR 5.

A superb conversion made the score GHA 0 MARR 7. From the restart Marr increased the pace of an already fast match to attempt to make further inroads to the scoreboard. Marr began to vary their approach using their forwards to thunder into the home side to set up quick  ball  to their backs who used disguised deft kicks to find space behind the home defence. In one such  super cross field diagonal from Marr it took a fabulous catch by Scott Derrick just outside his twenty two area to deny the onrushing Marr players possession. However  play was taken back to an earlier infringement and Marr were awarded a penalty. Marr missed the attempted penalty kick but seemed undaunted by this set back and resumed a period of dominance as we moved towards the interval. Some excellent tackling by messrs Fox, Brogan and McCarthy and Kerr blunted the initial thrusts of the Marr attack . The home side managed to clear the ball to allow Grant Mollison to clear the danger only to have the ball launched straight back at the defence. The ball took a cruel bounce which wrong footed the home cover and messrs Bickerstaff and Shedden sprinted through to  collect the ball and allow Conor BIckerstaff to score.  The conversion was missed and as we neared to the interval the score was: GHA 0 MARR 12.

It had been a keenly contested first half with very little between the teams. Marr had shown a calmness and an ability to seize opportunities to put points on the scoreboard but certainly they could not discount the home side who entered the interval perhaps wondering what they had to do to break through the purple defence.

Despite the desire of the home side to gain a period of dominance from the start of the second half, the first minutes of the half were untidy and the referee spoke to both captains as several niggles threatened to become an issue in the match. Much of this was a result perhaps of keenly felt frustration from both sides who found it very difficult to gain ascendancy in the match and to overcome a series of errors caused by inaccurate passing and penalty infringements. The game had been attritional and several stoppages to attend to injured players broke the rhyhthm of the match throughout the day. Marr were awarded a penalty after a further stoppage and kicked into the GHA twenty two metre area. A clever cross kick seemed to hang in the air and was superbly caught by the very hard working Alexander Fraser Grant who scampered to the line past the stunned GHA defence to great roars of appreciation from the Marr support. The conversion was missed and the score after eight minutes of the half was now: GHA 0 MARR 17.

For perhaps the first time in the match Marr were now in control and continued to take the ball into contact, protecting it before recycling and once again driving into the home defence constantly tying in GHA forwards and forcing the home side backs to retreat. Another stoppage again broke the rhythm of the match and it was Marr who were quickest back to full concentration as they won a scrum on the GHA twenty two and a combination of interpassing allowed the visitors to score in the corner. Thus after fifteen minutes the score was now: GHA 0 MARR 22.

The latter part of the half saw a sustained effort by the home side to find a way back into the match but the purple blanket descended on the breakdown and the possibility of a GHA breakthrough was snuffed out by a resolute defensive performance by the visiting side. The match finished with Marr in control and protecting their advantage. It had been in many ways a strange match. Basic errors, resolute defence and some  skillful in field kicking and for one side at least the ability to finish chances. The home side put a great deal of effort and commitment to the match and refused to buckle at any point in the match. Selkirk arrive at Braidholm next week and the home support will  hope that their side can emerge triumphant in a league which is proving very demanding.






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