OLD ALBANIANS 28 CINDERFORD 25
A LAST-minute drop goal from Old Albanians replacement Richard Gregg denied Cinderford their second National One away win.
The Foresters fought back from 18-8 down at half-time to lead 25-18 with ten minutes left and appeared to be heading towards victory when the hosts’ lock Lloyd Bickle was then sin-binned.
Despite being a man down, Albanians, who toppled leaders Ealing last week, scored their third try and then with fly-half James Shanahan sucked in, Gregg lined up the winning kick.
Old Albanians centre Lawrence Rayner had the first chance to put points on the board after 14 minutes but he sliced his penalty wide.
Five minutes later the home side took the lead when Cinderford tried to clear their lines but were penalised for having players in front of the kicker on their 22.
Albanians’ director of rugby Shanahan took it quickly and fired a flat pass to onrushing wing Chris May who smashed through Foresters’ full-back Mike Wilcox to score.
Rayner pulled the extras wide as his side led 5-0 but five minutes later the scores were level when a good backs move let Wilcox slip through at halfway and release wing Lloyd Stapleton.
He darted into the hosts’ 22 before releasing fellow wideman Nev Codlin who battered his way through two tackles to dot down in the corner but stand-off Mark Davies’ kick did not have the legs.
The visitors’ dominance finally brought fruition when from another visit to their opposition 22, Davies fired over a drop goal on 34 minutes after a period of concerted pressure.
That advantage did not last long though as Rayner levelled the scores on 37 minutes with a penalty from in front of the posts.
Moments before the break, Cinderford centre Jack Adams shot up in the defensive line letting Albanians wing Sam Collins fire through the gap and take play to within five metres.
At the ruck, Foresters’ lock Dale Critchley was penalised and sent to the side lines for ten minutes with the hosts’ forwards picking and going until scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg dummied over.
Rayner easily converted to lead 15-8 at the break and Cinderford had to weather a heavy storm on their line at the start of the half which only yielded another Rayner penalty on 55 minutes.
Cinderford gained some momentum when they kicked a penalty to the corner on the hour and when skipper Will Foden peeled off the catch and drive his opposite number Rob Fahrenhaim infringed.
The openside was sent to the bin and from the next catch and drive, hooker Tom Bozzard dotted down with Davies’ conversion pulling within three.
Great defence from Foden and scrum-half Sam Arnott then earned another penalty which Davies smoothly dispatched from 40 metres to tie the score on 67 minutes.
With Albanians going through the phases at halfway, Cinderford replacement Robbie Winchle snatched the ball out of the air and evaded two tackles to race away and score three minutes later.
Davies easily converted to lead by seven and from the restart Arnott was shoulder charged by Bickle but the visitors did not have a chance to take advantage and sloppy errors let the opposition in.
Liebenberg slid over for his second try after the forwards could not find a way through and Gregg dispatched the extras to tie the score with five minutes to go.
Then in added time, Albanians continued to pound the CInderford line before the ball was sent back for Gregg to split the posts and leave the visitors with a losing bonus point.
OLD ALBANIANS: O Marchan; C May (Speirs, 57), C Lombaard, L Rayner (Gregg, 68), S Collins; J Shanahan, S Liebenberg; C Hughes, B McNamee (Cope, 75), M Cade (Schillaci, 57); L Bickle, B Johnson (captain); A Daish (Hamilton, 52), R Fahrenheim, M Chambers. Replacements: W Cope, R Schillaci, R Hamilton, R Gregg, J Speirs.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox; N Codlin, J Adams, D Scourfield (Winchle, 57), L Stapleton; M Davies, S Arnott; j Brooks, T Bozzard (Woodward, 80), L Green (Smart, 55); B West, D Critchley; L Allen, W Foden, J Garner (Evans, 55). Replacements: J Smart, N Woodward, G Evans, R Winchle, K Done.