League leaders too strong for St Albans Men

ST ALBANS Men travelled to Southgate on Saturday for a late game but struggled against the league leaders and ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 score line.

Under the lights and with a significant home crowd to support them, the home side started strongly and some excellent rotation through the middle of the pitch caused St Albans problems. This initial pressure led to a penalty corner for Southgate.

Malcolm Yull saved the initial shot, but the follow up found its way into the net, with lineman Andy Dixon unable to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

The Tangerines clawed their way back into the game, buoyed by some excellent away support, and managed several forays into the Southgate circle, but they were unable to maintain any significant possession. Southgate remained dangerous on the break and duly doubled their lead when a good move down the right hand side left a home player free at the edge of the circle, who flicked home hard at the near post.

St Albans looked to tire towards the end of the first half and the Southgate players began to find even more space all over the pitch. The home side managed to extend their lead to 3-0 when a forward received the ball unmarked in the middle of the circle and had the time and space to fire home powerfully.

After the break St Albans succeeded in holding on to possession more effectively and, coupled with a more aggressive press, the Tangerines were able to cause Southgate more problems at the back.

On several occasions St Albans stole the ball high up the pitch with Dave Williams unfortunate to see his shot saved after Barry Murphy had fed the ball from a turnover in possession. As the pressure built up St Albans looked much more likely to score, but were unable to unlock the Southgate defence until Brett Holland broke into the circle and his low shot found its way past the Southgate ‘keeper at the near post to reduce the deficit.

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St Albans continued to create chances and sensed that they could still get something out of the game, but were unable to break down the door of the stubborn Southgate defence, with Holland coming particularly close to scoring his second. Unfortunately it was Southgate who scored next when their forward won a penalty corner after a fast break and Yull was unable to keep out a low drag flick.

St Albans showed good heart right up to the end, with substitute goalkeeper Iain Fraser making two good saves to keep the home side on four goals. St Albans were rewarded with a consolation goal when Williams picked the ball up just outside the 25 and drove towards goal. After beating the last man, Williams’ ball to the far post ended up in the goal off a defender’s stick.