OAs lose at home
London One Old Albanians 6 Shelford 9 OAs lost their perfect home record to league leaders Shelford on Saturday by the finest of margins. OAs were last beaten at home in League One on January 5 but wayward kicking cost them dear. For their part, Shelfor
Old Albanians 6
OAs lost their perfect home record to league leaders Shelford on Saturday by the finest of margins.
OAs were last beaten at home in League One on January 5 but wayward kicking cost them dear.
For their part, Shelford were able to leave Woollams with their own unbeaten league record still intact, an impressive record which now stretches to nine wins and one draw. Mixed with elation, however, there was a tangible air of relief hanging over the visitors' party as they set off back to Cambridgeshire in the freezing fog.
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The dismal conditions for handling and an over-fussy match official's interpretation of the laws combined to suppress any continuity, thus preventing what had been billed in advance as the game of the season from ever living up to expectations. Yet the commitment and drive on display from both sides made this an absorbing contest from start to finish.
On balance, the Shelford back line, although getting no change from the home defence, looked marginally more threatening when in full flight and generally more assured on the ball. However it was the strong OAs pack that had the upper hand and with it, the key to making a breakthrough, had their superiority been properly exploited.
In the event, a poor standard of kicking from hand throughout and two decisions in the second half to go for goal rather than kick for a try-scoring position, let their hard-pressed opposition off the hook and meant that this fine contest had to be settled by the penalty conversion rate.
On the day, Shelford's Edward Gough emerged as the winner of the kicking shoot out, missing only one of his four attempts whilst, uncharacteristically, Richard Gregg was successful in nailing only two from five efforts.
With both defences on top, clear try-scoring opportunities were at a premium. OAs' best chance came after 15 minutes when full back Chris May, having recovered from his own handling error, countered with a bold move which he himself was on the end of but adjudged not to have grounded. Then, late in the second period, play was brought back for a crossing offence as Dene Miller bore down on the Shelford line.
Earlier, ex OAs winger, Dominic Jones, went close for the visitors having been given too much room on his wing.
Gregg Botterman led by example throughout and Arthur Mate restored to action after a two week rest was always eager to be involved in the heat of the fray. Disappointingly, OAs played a quarter of this vital match a man down, Dan Henderson and then Paul Gustard each receiving yellow cards from a zealous referee.
The Woollams men appeared to have secured a point when Gregg fired over a penalty with five minutes left on the clock but, in the next Shelford attack, OAs were penalised once again for holding on and Gough punished them from close range.
When the tables were turned deep into injury time, Gregg lined up a kick from 35 metres to restore parity but, to the dismay of the Woollams faithful and the delight of the opposition, his effort drifted wide into the murky evening, taking with it the hopes of a deserved win.
An abrasive contest produced two serious knocks, both ankle injuries. OAs' unlucky centre Russell Osman, almost back to his best after a long term injury, sustained a twisted ankle and Shelford's full back Chris Glynn left the action after 50 minutes.
OA's travel to Tring on Saturday, kick off 2.30pm. The Woollams men are overdue an away league win and they will be keen to get a result against their local Herts rivals.
OAs: Chris May, Dene Miller, Russell Osman, Tryfan Edwards, Mark Mansfield, Richard Gregg, Oliver Peck, Andy Pearson, Gregg Botterman, Nathan Byrne, Arthur Mate, James Kriukelis, Alex Bennett Dan Henderson, Paul Gustard. Subs: (all used) Adam Gelman, Matt Alford, Ed Panting.