Gallery: OAs remain winless after unsuccessful trip to Coventry
- Credit: Coventry Telegraph
Old Albanian remain without a win in National League One after a 37-16 loss to Coventry on Saturday.
Coventry may well have been shorn of their first team pack due to recent injuries but the one which took the field last Saturday was more than up to the task required of it writes Brian Quinn.
Home supporters may have been dismayed that favourite son Cliffie Hodgson was unable to take the field. They needn’t have worried since deputy fly half Matt Jones not only had a 100 per cent return from his place kicking but harried the visitors all afternoon with ball in hand. His 17 points from place kicks was matched by his ability to launch his threequarter line at a ponderous OA defence often enough so that when gaps appeared they were, for the most part, exploited.
Jones’ kicking from hand was also slicker than anything OAs could manage and regularly pegged Billy Johnson’s men back in their own territory when they seemed about to break into the opposition red zone.
Two minutes was all it took for the first successful assault when, after OAs conceded a penalty in midfield, No.8 Luke Joseph charged over by the posts for Jones to convert. OAs showed they could reply in kind just three minutes later when George Perkins cleverly exploited the smallest of gaps on the right side. Elliott Reeder added the extras.
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The next five minutes saw Jones and Reeder swap penalties as the two sides sparred for position. Dom Lespierre showed fine pace when set free on the Coventry right for Jones to improve brilliantly from the touchline.
All the while the OA tight scrum had been attending to duty and managed one strike against the head while the lineout was as safe as ever and even snaffled Coventry possession on occasion.
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OAs gradually improved their ball retention and field position as the half wound down and after another Reeder penalty reduced the gap to four points there seemed genuine hope that the second half would produce finer fare.
Coventry had other ideas and Lespierre struck again three minutes into the second period. Jones’ improvement again put daylight between the two sides. Reeder responded minutes later with his third penalty which, as things turned out, closed OA’s account.
Substitute Tom Whitely had been on the field what seemed like moments when he was sent back to the bench for 10 minutes and his absence saw two further Jones penalties. The only time OAs got close to the Coventry 22 in a 20-minute spell was when a Johnson kick rolled into touch with five minutes to go.
Brett Daynes ensured a bonus point for the hosts with the last move of the match when he finished off another incisive attack under the crossbar. Jones had no problem with his final conversion.
OAs seem to start each season rather tenuously almost as if they need the first few games to gain confidence or weld an effective game plan together. This encounter will not have been a pleasant experience for the squad. But they have proved they can compete at the highest level in National One as the third quarter against Ealing proved beyond doubt. They have their next opportunity to reprise those heady moments against Blackheath next Saturday, Kick-off 3pm.