Exiles overcome Letchworth in fiery encounter to keep promotion bid on track
East League Division 4SW Letchworth III 2 St Albans Exiles 3 EXILES made the short trip up the A1 to visit bottom side, Letchworth III looking to press home their second place in the league. Exiles were at reduced strength, with White, Jones, Lister, Blac
East League Division 4SW
Letchworth III 2 St Albans Exiles 3
EXILES made the short trip up the A1 to visit bottom side, Letchworth III looking to press home their second place in the league. Exiles were at reduced strength, with White, Jones, Lister, Black, Cowan, Freedman all missing.
For much of the match the Exiles remained in first gear and with Letchworth putting the Exiles defence under pressure.
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It was no surprise when the Exiles went behind as Letchworth's midfield youngsters were given room to run at the Exiles defence. They slipped the ball through to the D and the striker made no mistake from 10 yards.
The match was a rather bad tempered affair, which was not helped by some rather strange home umpiring - this was someone who could see infringements 60 yards away but missed fouls under his nose, claiming he could not see.
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Exiles drew level when some rare quick passing found the ball played across from the right wing to Nick James, who made no mistake from 10 yards out. It was a goal which mirrored his effort the previous week.
Exiles were only level for two minutes when poor marking allowed a hit into the circle which found a Letchworth stick, which stabbed the ball home from close range.
With half an hour gone, the Exiles were looking short of ideas, with poor passing and stick control letting them down. They continually gave the ball away to the lively Letchworth side. It looked as if Exiles were going to drop valuable points in the battle for promotion.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Exiles were awarded their first penalty corner. Reeves played the ball to O'Toole at the top of the D. Some good stick work gave him time and space which allowed him to flick the ball high into the net.
Letchworth were given a chance to retake the lead before half time when Jo Youngs could only block a goal bound shot with his foot and a penalty stroke was awarded. Jeremy Fretter made himself big and the Letchworth striker missed his target. Exiles were let off the hook and turned around all level.
The second half was a stop-start affair with fouls littering most of the play. Having just had a warning, the Letchworth side were reduced to 10 men when the left-back was sin-binned for a tackle that wouldn't have been out of place on a rugby pitch.
Exiles used the extra man to their advantage and took the lead when they were awarded yet another penalty corner for an infringement in the attacking D. Having been caught by O'Toole's skills in the first half, they rushed out to prevent a shot. O'Toole took the ball to one side and struck the ball towards goal. A deflection from a Letchworth stick fell for Reeves who knocked it past the 'keeper. Exiles were ahead for the first time and it was a lead they would not let slip.
Exiles were reduced to 10 men when James was sin-binned by the home umpire for a 'blatant use of a back stick'. Despite this disadvantage the Exiles held firm and although Letchworth attacked, most fizzled out before they could get sight of goal.
A frantic last couple of minutes saw Letchworth camped in the Exiles third of the pitch, but with all hands to the pumps, the Exiles came away with all three points.
Although it was a workmanlike performance, they will need to be at their best next week as they travel to third place Cheshunt knowing that another six or seven points should seal promotion to 3SW.