Celebrations for St Albans as draw is enough to confirm promotion to higher league
- Credit: Archant
St Albans’s ladies will be in the second tier of English hockey after a nerve-jangling 2-2 draw at Cambridge City.
An overhaul of hockey across the pyramid meant the Tangerines had to finish sixth in the Investec Women’s Conference East to secure their place in the new National Division One.
They had started the game sitting in that position but with a draw potentially no good, nails were shredded as they waited for news of their only other rivals Horsham, who needed to win at Sevenoaks.
But the news that the Sussex side had lost 2-1 was enough to start the party.
Coach Ravi Vijh said: “Our goal from the start of the season was to secure promotion to this new league and I’m delighted we hit that target.
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“The season was a roller-coaster at times but ultimately the work we put in throughout the season paid off and I’m delighted for this group of ladies.”
The match in Cambridge saw the hosts start the better of the two teams although neither side were able to carve out many early chances.
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But the opening goal did arrive on 17 minutes and it when to City, breaking quickly and finishing clinically after a period of pressure from Saints.
Cambridge continued to push forward for a second but couldn’t get passed a stubborn St Albans defence who were able to keep the score at 1-0 at half time.
Correcting a few mistakes made in the first half and with more to play for, the visitors started the second half much better, their controlled possession creating a couple of half chances.
And their persistence paid off in the 44th minute from a penalty corner. Captain Natasha Humphris was the scorer, thumping the ball into the bottom-left corner.
Keen to push for more, St. Albans continued to attack 11 minutes later they had the lead.
Samantha Archer-Overall found herself in space on the left and with some quick movement she got beyond her defender and slotted past the goalkeeper.
Helen Richardson-Walsh, part of GB’s Olympic gold medal side, equalised with nine minutes to go and although Saints piled forward in search of a winner, it never came despite a couple of good chances and a penalty corner.
It didn’t matter though and the players can now enjoy the summer before life in a higher league.