Wimbledon see off St Albans
Wimbledon 5 St Albans Men 2
ST ALBANS suffered their second league defeat of the season away against a strong Wimbledon outfit, coming out on the wrong end of a 5-2 score line.
After the long journey to SW19 and a curtailed warm up St Albans still managed to start strongly and were unlucky not to take advantage of some nervy defending from Wimbledon in the opening few minutes. Wimbledon, however, showed their attacking intentions too and were close to scoring on two occasions in the opening exchanges.
As both teams settled into the game the opening goal could have gone to either the home side or the visitors, but it was the Tangerines took the lead when Andy Dixon converted his second penalty stroke in successive games after an intentional foul from Wimbledon.
Disappointingly, St Albans were unable to take a one goal advantage into the break. A powerful run from England international Ben Hawes saw him penetrate the St Albans circle and a mistimed tackle from captain Paul Cooper was punished with a second penalty stroke of the game, which was duly converted by Wimbledon forward Seb Malti.
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Both sides knew that a strong start to the second half was crucial and it was the home side that seized the initiative by converting two penalty corners within the first five minutes of the second period.
Although St Albans tried to respond, some incisive counter attacking from the well-supported Wimbledon team saw them score two more times to extend their lead to 5-1.
St Albans did pull a goal back when Simon Archer’s cross was touched home by Brett Holland, but it proved to be the final action of the game. St Albans will look to put this setback behind them as they travel to top of the league Indian Gymkhana next Sunday knowing that they must continue to pick up points in the Men’s Conference East league.
* St Albans Exiles made the long trip to Shefford and Sandy with the midfield engine room unavailable, but still confident of a result against a team bottom of the League and without a goal so far this season. However, it was not to be as the Exiles lost for the first time in over a year.
The match started with Exiles taking the lead within the first 30 seconds of the opening whistle when a precise pass found Simon White on the edge of the ‘D’. He accelerated towards goal and fired hard and low past the advancing ‘keeper.
Exiles continued to press and had a number of chances to extend the lead further, but were thwarted, either by some good saves or poor finishing.
Exiles lost Graham Dill with a reoccurrence of his ankle injury and that upset the Exile balance in midfield.
Shefford and Sandy drew level following a penalty corner. Despite two saves from Jeremy Fretter in the Exiles goal, he was powerless to prevent the follow-up being finished from close range.
The Exiles continued to attack and were rewarded as some fast flowing hockey saw Mike Curtis score twice in a five minute burst.
However, the turning point of the game came as the half time whistle blew. The umpire signalled for another Shefford penalty corner and blew the half time whistle.
From the corner the Shefford striker slipped the ball to the side and shot at goal. Again Fretter in the Exiles goal kept out the initial shot. The follow-up shot then, according to the umpire, hit an Exiles leg. He was right, however, it was the leg of the Fretter the goal keeper. Despite this the umpire inexplicably gave a penalty stroke. Shefford made no mistake from the mark which saw the Exiles leading 3-2 at the break.
Exiles did not turn up for the second half and let Shefford attack at will. Some poor decision making, poor finishing and some rather generous umpiring saw Shefford draw level and then take the lead from two penalty corners, despite some good saves and goal line clearances.
Shefford made sure of the points with around 10 mins remaining. The Shefford forward was allowed to walk through the Exiles defence and slide the ball into the corner of the goal.
It was a goal which pretty much summed up Exiles second half performance.
Exiles had suffered a rare result, mainly through poor play, but it has to be said that the umpiring in this match left a lot to be desired.
This was shown in the last five minutes of the match when a Shefford player threw down his stick in disgust at a decision and was quickly followed by a torrent of foul language to the umpire, who took no action on either occasion. Then, when he was – politely – asked by an Exiles player why he allowed a player to swear at him, he found himself being shown a card which seemed bizarre.
Exiles must quickly regroup as they entertain a strong Winchmore Hill side next week at Clarence Park and put this result down as a rare bad day.
Exiles: Fretter, Bird, Winter(c), Dorsett, Stofton, Cowan, Dill, Jones, Walker, Curtis, White
* The Boadiceans entertained a strong Potters Bar side looking for an important win in the Ladies 5 Counties League.
They took the lead when Helen Anton finished off a well worked penalty corner routine.
However, the Boadiceans could not hold on as the Potters Bar pressure started to tell. Two late goals from Potters Bar saw the Boadiceans end with nothing to show from a good team performance.
* St Albans Hockey Club results
I v Wimbledon I Lost 5-2
II v Indian Gymkhana Won 3-1
Senators v Old Loughtonians III Lost 11-0
IV v Old Loughtonians Gunners Lost 2-1
Citizens v Welwyn G.C. IV Lost 4-1
VII v Shefford/Sandy III Win 4-2
I v Ipswich I Lost 3-0
1A v Colchester Lost 3-1