Saints beat Stortford
HOCKEY: ST ALBANS Mens first team came through a tough encounter against Bishops Stortford, winning a close game 3-2. Playing at Queenswood School for the second home game running, St Albans came into Saturday s clash knowing that they would be in for a h
HOCKEY: ST ALBANS Mens first team came through a tough encounter against Bishops Stortford, winning a close game 3-2.
Playing at Queenswood School for the second home game running, St Albans came into Saturday's clash knowing that they would be in for a hard fought game against Bishop's Stortford, whose lowly league position is not an accurate reflection of their standard of hockey.
The visiting side started well, with the Stortford front three putting the St Albans back-line under pressure, and the Saints struggled to dictate play as they had been able to do against other sides.
As St Albans struggled to play their way through the Stortford midfield, it was a more direct approach that lead to the opening goal.
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Player-coach Glenn Webster picked the ball up just inside his own half, and played a defence-splitting aerial pass to forward Stephen Hurworth. Hurworth took the ball well, with his first touch setting up a one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, and the Saints striker finished magnificently, dropping his shoulder to send the keeper the wrong way and firing a backhand shot into the goal.
Buoyed by this breakthrough, St Albans started to put more passes together, and started to rotate positions in an effort to break free of Bishops Stortford's tight man to man marking. An excellent move down the right hand side led to Alan Miller in possession high up the pitch, who fed the ball into Paul Cooper at the top of the opposition circle. Cooper fired the ball hard towards goal, and a deft touch from Dave Williams deflected the ball into the Stortford goal to double the Saints' advantage. The home side were unable to take their two goal lead into the break, however, with a looping ball into the circle finding its way to a Stortford striker at the far post, who slotted home from close range.
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Bishop's Stortford came out after half time at an impressive pace, and took the Tangerines by surprise with a swift counter attack which led to the away team levelling the game. St Albans' goalkeeper Malcolm Yull was unable to prevent the Stortford striker from scoring after the ball had been fed into him from the Stortford right, and the game was right back in the balance.
St Albans were unable to find a way through the solid Bishops Stortford defence, and their frustration showed in a series of basic errors that broke down attack after attack. Midfielder Miller received a yellow card and a sin bin for following through after a tackle, but ironically being down to ten men led to St Albans producing a good spell of hockey.
As the game entered the last few minutes, the Saints looked more likely to take the three points. Williams was unlucky to see his penalty corner strike come back of the post, but the Saints striker did score what proved to be the winner a minute later. A lofted through ball fell to Mark Lowden, who took the ball well over his shoulder and his low shot brought a good save from the Stortford keeper. The rebound fell to Williams just yards from goal, who made no mistake with the follow up.
The hard fought win keeps St Albans at the top of the East Men's Premier A league, and the Tangerines will hope that they can take all three points next week against Peterborough to maintain their excellent winning run.