Albanian edge by Rosslyn Park

Action from Old Albanian's 17-16 win over Rosslyn Park. Picture by David Buxton

Action from Old Albanian's 17-16 win over Rosslyn Park. Picture by David Buxton - Credit: Archant

ANOTHER milestone was reached last Saturday when Rosslyn Park paid their first visit to Woollams, writes Brian Quinn.

Action from Old Albanian's 17-16 win over Rosslyn Park. Picture by David Buxton

Action from Old Albanian's 17-16 win over Rosslyn Park. Picture by David Buxton - Credit: Archant

The visitors were just above Albanians in the National One pecking order and were hoping to improve their fine season by completing the ‘double’ over their hosts. Park join Blackheath, Coventry, Fylde and Richmond as the sides in this League with the most auspicious playing history and Albanians had lost just three of the nine fixtures against these sides to date.

Once more OAs were to be faced with a bigger pack but James Shanahan’s men had been up against this problem many times before in this campaign and not been found wanting. Ultimately it was a close run thing but, with a real skipper’s contribution from Shanahan, this was a fine win against exalted opponents.

The weather played a dominant role in this dramatic encounter with a strong wind blowing the prevailing rain northwards all during play. The Albanian kickoff was thus wafted into Rosslyn Park’s in-goal area and a scrum ensued. A’s defence was therefore called into play from the start and this held for the first quarter.

It helped the home cause that Will Bowley received the only yellow card of the game after 11 minutes but indiscipline brought play into OA territory and, after a period of forward dominance, Joe Clark drove over for the first try. The rampaging Brett McNamee, once more guesting in the back row, evened matters two minutes later with a trademark drive from inside the Park 22. Both improving kicks were blown wide.

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Both sides were taking some time to get to grips with the wintry conditions which favoured forward effort rather than the flowing, wide ranging game preferred by the hosts. Too many passes were blown askew to risk more adventurous play but Albanians were losing nothing in the forward battle.

Then with almost half an hour gone, and after well worked Albanian approach work, James Shanahan drifted through at the posts giving Richard Gregg the simplest of tasks with the conversion. So the score remained 12-5 at the interval.

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Park now had the meteorological advantage and close quarter work took play into the A’s 22 for an extended period. Sam Katz took advantage for the visitors and notched two penalties by the eighteenth minute, leaving his side with just a one point gap. Then, as the game moved into the concluding phase, imposing No 8 Tom Baldwin charged over to give Park the lead once more. There were just just thirteen minutes left for Albanians to regain ascendancy.

But regain it they did and OA pressure inexorably moved play closer to the Park line. Finally with three minutes left Shanahan imperiously evaded desperate defence for the final try of the afternoon, rewarding the tremendous efforts of the forwards who had given him the opportunity.

This win, by the narrowest of margins, maintains Albanian’s fifth place in the League and Macclesfield, currently struggling to stave off relegation, will undoubtedly test A’s resolve next Saturday. Kick-off 3pm at Priory Park.

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