St Albans seal National League spot after lowly Letchworth put up a fight
- Credit: Archant
St Albans men secured promotion to the National League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over local rivals Letchworth on Saturday.
The visitors, despite sitting at the bottom of the table, appeared to thrive in the blustery conditions, while third-placed St Albans lacked their usual fluency.
And that meant the outcome of the East League Premier A match remained on a knife edge until the final whistle.
The home side took the lead through captain and leading scoer Matt Davey, whose low, hard drag flick did enough to beat the Letchworth keeper.
But despite a number of other chances and forcing several corners, the scoreline remained unchanged at the interval.
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St Albans looked to have put the result beyond doubt when man of the match Tariq Marcano netted with a strong reverse stick shot after a mazy run to make it 2-0.
But a third goal continued to elude the hosts and nerves began to jangle when Letchworth netted with a deflection five minutes from time to halve the deficit.
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Tension mounted as St Albans were then reduced to 10 men and they were put under pressure in the closing stages as Letchworth attacked in search of an unlikely point.
And hearts were in mouths in the final moments of the match as Letchworth fired the ball across the face of the St Albans goalmouth, but none of their players could make a telling contact.
A relieved Davey admitted: “Letchworth battled hard and defended well, but we did enough to get the win.
“More importantly it secured a top-four finish and promotion to the National League.
“It has been a long, hard road, but it feels great to have finally made the jump.”
St Albans make the long trip to second-placed Harleston Magpies, who are guaranteed the runners-up spot behind champions Wapping, this weekend and complete their campaign with a rearranged home match against lowly Norwich City on March 30.
How they stand
Men’s East League
P W D L F A Pts
Wapping 21 18 2 1 74 19 56
Harleston 21 17 1 3 65 35 52
St Albans 20 14 3 3 81 28 45
Bedford 21 14 1 6 71 45 43
Cambs Uni 20 12 1 7 66 41 37
West Herts 21 11 3 7 53 44 36
Ipswich 21 10 4 7 72 44 34
Chelmsford 21 5 2 14 39 75 17
Cambs City II 21 4 2 15 29 78 14
Norwich CIty 20 3 4 13 27 62 13
Saffron Walden 21 1 3 17 28 88 6
Letchworth 20 1 2 17 27 73 5