Hockey: St Albans’ running out of time in relegation fight

St Albans Hockey Club’s men’s 1sts have three games left in their bid to avoid relegation from the National League East Conference.

The Tangerines are currently bottom of the table, one point behind Brighton and Hove. A move into ninth place over the coming weeks will see them avoid a play-off against the runners-up from the East Premier League, a match St Albans won last year to earn a spot in the division.

On Saturday St Albans put in an improved performance but still succumbed to a narrow 2-1 defeat to Richmond. Their relegation rivals, Brighton and Hove, also lost.

St Albans had the best of a tense first half, forcing a couple of penalty corners and having fierce shot well saved by the Richmond goalkeeper.

However, despite good possession, it was the visitors who took the lead just before half-time when a well-rehearsed penalty corner routine was expertly tucked away.

The second half was intensely contested as the Tangerines’ Paul Cooper took a knock from a strong challenge and a member of the Richmond coaching staff received a yellow card.

Cooper shook off the injury and equalised for St Albans with a cross-shot from open play.

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The equaliser seemed to rouse Richmond who finished strongly. The visitors had two goals disallowed before they hit the bar with a thunderous shot. Their forward responded quickest to scoop in the rebound.