Late goal condemns hosting Magpies to a narrow defeat

LATE LOSS: Captain Leigh Sitch saw his Harleston side suffer a defeat at home to St Albans
LATE LOSS: Captain Leigh Sitch saw his Harleston side suffer a defeat at home to St Albans

EAST MEN’S LEAGUE

PREMIER A

Harleston Magpies I 1

St Albans I 2

There was some late heartbreak for Harleston Magpies on Saturday as St Albans headed back to Hertfordshire with maximum points.

All three goals in the encounter came during the second half, with Magpies taking the lead.

However, they failed to build upon that advantage and were duly punished as the visitors struck twice, the latter goal coming with just one minute remaining.

The game started at a fast pace with both teams pressing high up the pitch.

It was Harleston who had the majority of possession during the opening exchanges and they nearly took the lead with a short corner in the 15th minute.

Sam Patterson beat the visiting goalkeeper for pace, but unfortunately also the outside of the post.

Mid-way through the half St Albans started to assert their authority and it was Harleston’s turn to absorb pressure, forcing home goalkeeper John Livings to make some crucial saves.

Harleston started the second half brightly and after a prolonged period of pressure they broke the deadlock.

It was captain Leigh Sitch who provided the pass into the circle and former Canadian international Elliott Marsh, who deflected the ball into the goal.

St Albans reacted strongly and immediately turned up the heat and within five minutes the scores were even after they converted a penalty corner to make it 1-1.

As the half wore on 
Harleston once again began to dominate proceedings with Thomas Ridley and David 
Gilbert showing attacking intent that nearly earned the team a goal.

With 15 minutes to play, Harleston had a barrage of short corners but despite their efforts they lacked the potency of their rivals and failed to score from 13 penalty corners over the course of the game.

As the game entered the final moments, there only looked like being one winner with Harleston camped in the opposition’s half, rallying attack after attack.

But with one minute to go, the unthinkable happened after a counter-attack from St Albans resulted in only their third penalty corner of the game and crucially their second goal.

With 20 seconds left on the clock, Harleston mounted one more attack.

Yet it was all too late and the final whistle blew on not only the game, but possibly 
Harleston’s East Premier League title ambitions.

Fifth-placed Magpies will look to bounce back at the first time of asking tomorrow when they play host to second-placed Wapping I ahead of the Christmas break (2pm).