Mid Sussex Marlins make solid start to new water polo season

Mid Sussex Marlins ladies water polo team travelled to Ponds Forge pool in Sheffield last weekend for the long-awaited opening games of the new British Water Polo League campaign.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 2:30 pm
The Mid Sussex Marlins team that travelled to Sheffield. From left: Player/coach Lucy Fox, Lottie Apps, goalkeeper Maddie Calthrop, Annabel Hogbin, Amy Styles, captain Lauren Hand, Maisie Standen, Becky Smith and Lillie Standen. Eve Tidy and Giulia Villar-Alario also travelled but are not pictured

Due to the pandemic the league lost and entire season in 2020 so, for many players, it was their first competitive match in almost two years.

Marlins’ squad also had a different make up - several senior players retired during the hiatus, while others were making their National League debuts.

Marlins’ opening match was against old rivals, Birmingham. Both teams, understandably, initially struggled to find their rhythm after the long break.

Birmingham led by the only goal at the end of an error strewn first quarter. In the second period, Marlins began to find more fluency with two well=taken goals by Lauren Hand, and only one conceded, to leave the game all square at half-time.

In the third and fourth quarters, the Marlins girls’ superior skill and fitness began to tell as they scored a further six goals to run out comfortable winners 8-4.

Player/coach Lucy Fox was particularly pleased to see youngsters Beccy Smith and Lillie Standen score on their National League debuts. Additional goals came from Hand, Eve Tidy, Amy Styles and Maisie Standen.

Marlins' second match was a vastly different affair, against a highly experienced and extremely physical Rotherham side.

Rotherham contained several former GB players and were coached by former GB coach Norman Leighton.

Marlins held their opponents 3-3 in the first quarter, after goals from Styles (2) and Giulia Villar-Alario. But Rotherham proved too experienced and forced many major fouls from the Marlins players, resulting in several penalties and exclusions.

Marlins, nevertheless, showed good spirit to register a further four goals from Villar-Alario (3) and Smith. The final score was 7-21.

Coach Fox took several positives from the game: Marlins’ GB junior keeper, Maddie Calthrop, made many excellent saves; Villar-Alario and Lottie Apps showed great fitness and perseverance – continuing to make attacking drives right to the end; the senior quartet: Styles, Hand, Eve Tidy and Maisie Standen all showed their experience while the youngsters gained in confidence and learned a lot from their debuts.

This will clearly be a tough campaign for a Marlins team in transition. Nevertheless there are grounds to be optimistic

Marlins’ next round of matches takes place at Marlborough College on October 16 and 17, and features two tough fixtures against City of Sheffield and City of Liverpool.