St Albans men heading up

PUBLISHED: 10:03 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

ST ALBANS Men will compete in the Indoor Premier League next year having won promotion in a nail-biting weekend at Haslemere in Surrey. The Saints began the weekend in third place following the first round of games, outside of the play-off places and need

ST ALBANS Men will compete in the Indoor Premier League next year having won promotion in a nail-biting weekend at Haslemere in Surrey.

The Saints began the weekend in third place following the first round of games, outside of the play-off places and needing either Surbiton or Doncaster to slip up if they were to win promotion. The Saints were keen to try to put destiny in their own hands after results last year saw them miss out on promotion, something they were eager to rectify this year.

Saints started brightly disposing of skilful Asian side Barford 8-3. The game was 3-3 and a close affair up to the half time hooter with Glenn Webster, David Williams and Matt Cocks on the score sheet for St Albans. Keeper Malcolm Yull and his defence made a timely short corner block as time ran out to keep the scores level at the break. Soon into the second half the Saints' patience paid off as Webster added a second-half hat trick to his opening score and Yull made a fine penalty-flick save to keep Barford at bay.

The game against University of Bath saw the Saints' Paul Cooper come face-to-face with his brother David in an indoor contest for the first time. Younger brother Paul benefitted the most, netting twice in a tough 6-4 win. David and Paul reside in Chiswell Green and have both played for St Albans, both indoors and outside. Paul captained the Saints indoor side for the second year and is blossoming into a promising leader both on and off the field while David studied and worked in Bath, returning only recently for a teaching position at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Boys. As is often the way with these meetings, it did not last long as David was the unfortunate recipient of a stick to the face, requiring stitches.

Doncaster had lost their opener to a strengthened Stourport side which meant if Saints could beat Bowden they would be in the driving seat. However, it was not to be that simple as the day's unpredictable results again played their part with Saints only managing to draw. The Bowden keeper was sent off and although Saints converted the stroke, the game was disrupted. Following strikes from Webster, Williams and Cocks Saints failed to convert two penalty strokes and had keeper Yull to thank to keep the scores level.

As typifies this young Saints team, which is made up solely of those players either currently playing for the outdoor first XI or recent University leavers, the team spirit was strong and the belief was there that the day's events may still favour the Tangerine team. A long wait ensued between games but help was at hand as David Cooper thankfully returned to action for Bath and was instrumental in giving St Albans their second chance to secure promotion, working tirelessly to reduce Doncaster to a 5-5 draw, the last goal coming in the final play of the game.

Saints now knew that three points in the final game against Robinsons would see the Saints leapfrog Doncaster and taste the delights of Premier League Indoor Hockey. Saints duly obliged, running out 9-3 winners over the West Country outfit, who like Hull were relegated from first the Premier and now Division One in consecutive seasons. Webster netted four goals on his way to a total of 16, whilst David Williams was the pick of the forwards, scoring five which included a hat trick in three minutes to seal the match. This game also gave Coach Ashby the chance to field capable reserve keeper Adam Dixon for the final few minutes.

Saints proved to be the only team to take points from champions Surbiton, having held them to a draw in week one, the result of astute tactics from coach Ashby. Glenn Webster with 16 league goals was the Saints leading marksman, ably assisted by forwards David Williams with seven goals and Barry Murphy with six. Saints Manager Graham Webster was delighted with the weekend's work and the attitude and commitment of his players. Both he and Ashby will enjoy this promotion, but are already looking to the challenge ahead.

St Albans: Malcolm Yull (GK), Adam Dixon (GK), Paul Cooper (Capt.), Stephane Port, Glenn Webster, David Williams, Andy Dixon, Matthew Cocks, Simon Archer, Rob Brown, Steve Friend.

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