American football: Allen puts Monarchs back on target

The London Monarchs bounced back from last week's debacle against Barcelona to keep their World League season alive with a 16-8 victory over the Scottish Claymores at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

Even debacle hardly covers last week's remarkable match, in which they had led 30-7 at the interval only to lose 37-32. ''We needed to show some character this week, and the team responded,'' the Monarchs' head coach, Lionel Taylor, said. ''Now if we are able to keep that going for the rest of the season, we could be in good shape.''

London's offense, the source of many of the team's problems, had a more balanced and confident look. Despite suffering an early interception, their quarterback, Stan White, played with poise, engineering a 66-yard drive which culminated in Clive Allen's 30-yard field goal.

White was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury, and his replacement, Preston Jones, made the most dramatic of entrances. On his first play the former Philadelphia Eagle threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Larry Stallworth to extend the lead.

Meanwhile, Allen has began to find his feet on the gridiron. The former round ball specialist made a slow start to his American football career, but he seems to have established his rhythm. Two more field goals, from 20 and 27 yards, plus an extra point, meant the man who was more used to playing soccer on this ground, was successful on all four of his attempts.

''The pressure situations don't bother me because I've been there before,'' he said. ''The guys have helped me a lot, I've worked hard in training, and now have confidence in what I'm doing, which showed today.''

No Monarchs game is complete without some late drama, and yesterday was true to form. With the London 16-0 ahead and with time running out, the Claymores quarterback, Spence Fischer, finally executed an impressive drive which ended with Siran Stacey's one-yard score.

When London failed to move the ball, the Claymores took possession at their own 45-yard line with two minutes remaining. An outstanding catch by Scott Couper took them within six yards of the end zone, but a final defensive stand and a costly Claymores penalty saw the relieved Monarchs to safety.

It was nail-biting stuff, but the Monarchs deserved a victory which means they are still in contention for a place in next month's championship game.