Shanahan left with a mix of emotions after OAs lose to Cambridge

Head coach James Shanahan powers through to score against Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES

Head coach James Shanahan powers through to score against Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian’s player-coach James Shanahan was a mix of frustration, disappointment and anger after his side lost 26-24 to a last-gasp try against Cambridge.

OAs led 24-14 with 10 minutes to go but contrived to concede two tries, the second on the last play of the game, to allow Cambridge to close to two points at the top of the National League Two South.

And Shanahan said his side were guilty of not doing enough to close the game out in those final minutes.

He said: “We didn’t adapt and that gave them the opportunity to get back in the game.

“We had the ball with a minute to go, didn’t look after it, and they scored under the posts and game’s over.

“They’re a good team, they move the ball well, they’re fit, they’re keen and there’s a reason there in contention for the title.

“We looked after [No8 Steve] Hipwell all game; he’s a really strong ball-carrier. But in the last play he breaks a few tackles, gets an offload and they finish under the posts.”

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The coach, who scored two of Albanian’s four tries, was pleased with some aspects of the game, not least the performance of his young forwards, but felt maybe the occasion got to some.

He said: “In the first half we made a lot of line breaks but just lacked a bit of composure.

“The eagerness and the occasion made us force things to get those scores which meant we could have been out of sight by half-time.”

And he knows, with games away to Bishop’s Stortford, Redruth and Taunton to come, the battle for the title could go all the way to the wire

He added: “The only saving grace is we got two bonus points which keeps us top of the league so it means its still in our hands.

“We’ve got some really tough games coming up. We’re talking about a two horse race but it could end up as three or four.

“But I’m confident with this bunch of guys we can lick our wounds so to speak, won’t feel sorry for ourselves and step up next week.”