Brave Old Albanian lose battle with National One drop after Plymouth Albion loss

Craig Dowsett got the third Old Albanian try against Plymouth. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Craig Dowsett got the third Old Albanian try against Plymouth. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian’s brave battle with relegation from English rugby’s third tier ended with a 24-21 defeat at home to Plymouth Albion.

The Woollams-based side had raced into a 14-point lead inside the first 20 minutes against their dogged west country visitors but were not able to hang on to that advantage.

And news of Loughborough Students’ big win against basement-side Fylde confirmed Albanian’s National One fate.

All the omens looked good at the start of this nail-biting encounter when straight-forward pressure put Joel Kpoku over by the posts. Scrum-half Morgan Thompson converted.

Kpoku then stole a Plymouth line-out throw in their own 22 and Joe Bridger took advantage on the right. Thompson again added the extras.

But then things started to unravel for the St Albans club and when a loose pass was intercepted, Jordan Gott claimed the first visiting points, which Matt Shepherd converted into seven.

Suddenly A’s started conceding penalties and after three such indiscretions, James Salter was shunted over from a line-out. Shepherd again improved.

Most Read

But Tadgh McElroy ensured the hosts would take a 21-14 lead into the break when he showed a neat step to put Craig Dowsett away, Thompson again adding the kick.

After the interval stubborn Plymouth starved Albanian of possession and made inroads after home mistakes.

Dan Williams, always to the fore, was credited with the try 14 minutes in and Shepherd’s kick equalled the scores.

Then, with time running out for Albanians and errors increasing, Shepherd notched the penalty which ended the scoring and Albanian’s interest in this League for the time being.

With a game still to come against Rosslyn Park, who have slipped to fourth from bottom, one place above the relegation zone, any inquest into the season will have to wait.

But despite the disappointing end to a somewhat fractured season there were high spots and these will be listed and enjoyed again in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the club said: “For now let us thank the coaching team and all the players for their dedication, skill and attitude.

“There will be plenty more of that to enjoy before long.”