Old Albanian show the fight needed to avoid relegation despite slow start at Fylde

Old Albanian skipper Ross Hamilton got one of the tries against Fylde. Picture: KEVIN LINES

Old Albanian skipper Ross Hamilton got one of the tries against Fylde. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian came back from a slow start to beat basement club Fylde 31-21 with a bonus-point win that keeps their hopes of avoiding the drop from National One very much alive.

It is still going to be a tall order with just six games remaining and the gap to safety standing at seven points and the two teams above them both with a game in hand.

But this would have been one game they would have had circled for a few weeks as one they needed to win.

However, with the Lancashire coast probably being the only place in the country to have avoided the worst of the winter weather, they found themselves 14-0 down after 20 minutes and needed to dig deep to pull that back.

Tom Carleton, son of former England player Tom, and Adam Lewis had got the home tries, converted by Greg Smith and with the visitors conceding a number of penalties, and missing a shot at goal themselves, it was a lead that could not be disputed.

But even though it took nearly 30 minutes to gel, slowly Albanian turned the tide.

Harry Elbrow opened their account on 24 minutes with determination and fellow back-row Andy Christie followed suit six minutes later.

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Tom Bednall converted that to narrow the gap to two and a further successful conversion after Ross Hamilton’s try gave them a 19-14 half-time lead.

David Fairbrother’s try and Smith’s conversion regained the Lancastrians’ lead but possession and territory belonged to Albanian for the last 20 minutes.

The bonus point came on 66 minutes with Ollie Morris scoring and Nick Foster added another just three minutes later to complete the scoring and give the important win.

But if this was a game that Albanian had pinpointed as one to win, then so is Saturday’s visit of Loughborough Students.

They, along with Hull Ionians, are OAs rivals in the relegation dogfight and will come into the game on th back of a defeat to Birmingham Moseley, but one that yielded two vital bonus points.

However, the St Albans men are confident of their ability and of avoiding the drop and if they produce a display like the last hour in the north west, then they could be a lot closer to doing just that by 5pm on Saturday.

Kick-off at Woollams is at 2.30pm.