Bartley admits Marlow looked flat playing their fourth match in 10 days

Nnamdi Nwachuku netted in Saturday’s win over Ashford Town

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Marlow FC were beaten for the first time in the league on Tuesday evening, losing by a single goal against Hanwell Town at a rain-soaked Oak Tree Road.

The Blues have established themselves as real promotion contenders this season, winning six of their opening eight matches to move level on 19 points with leaders Uxbridge and Bracknell Town in third.

Their promotion hopes have been built on their solid defence. The side have conceded only two goals this season while striker Nnamdi Nwachuku has been in prolific form at the other end of the field. However, after a run of four matches in just 10 days, they looked a little flat against Hanwell, who moved to within three points of the Blues after Tuesday’s win. Harry Rush scored the game’s only goal in the 32nd minute after Marlow’s Georges Ehui and Hanwell’s Ogo Obi were sent off in the sixth minute.

Manager Mark Bartley felt his side did enough over the course of 90 minutes to take at least a point from a contest played in difficult conditions, but the Blues lacked their usual sharpness in front of goal and weren’t able to take the chances and half-chances which fell their way.

“We were a little bit flat,” he said. “It just felt like it might have been a game too far for us after playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday.

“We weren’t our usual sparky selves, but I still thought we had enough to maybe get a point. You come away with a bittersweet feeling, we’re not happy to have lost the game but we still created enough openings to have got ourselves the equaliser. They managed the game well in the second half. It was one of them. We’re disappointed, but the players have been fantastic, and we’re now just focused on bouncing back on Saturday.”

The Blues, who could have moved top of the table with a draw or victory against Hanwell, were hoping to continue the momentum from Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win over Ashford Town (Middx). Kameron English netted twice and Nwachuku was also on target as the Blues cruised to victory, but Tuesday’s result was an indication of the levels they’ll have to get to most weeks if they want to remain in the title hunt.

“Saturday was really important because it was one of those games we have to win if we want to be successful this season,” said Bartley. “There were a couple of lapses of concentration against Hanwell and our decision making wasn’t quite as fluid as it usually is. When you play against the top sides you have to be at it and we were a little bit off it, and ultimately that is the reason we’ve come away empty handed.

“We’ve been encouraged that we can match some of the best sides and we feel we’ve got a good chance of being where the action is at the end of the season, which is what we’re focused on.”

Next up for the Blues is a trip to Staines on Saturday, a side with a caretaker manager who have only won twice all season.

“They got a win last time out against Chalfont, and they came to have a look at us last night,” said Bartley. “One of the only benefits of us being flat last night is they haven’t been able to take too much away from it. But at the end of the day we want to win a league and if you want to do that you have to target three points.”

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