|Date||Saturday 13 February 2016|
|Match||North Greenford United v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Scott Bridges|
Being a football manager at any level cannot be easy – after organising, orchestrating and watching two really good away performances against potentially trickier opposition, that brought impressive displays, that were free scoring and professional and that demonstrated a clinical approach, earning positive results – we today witnessed a completely different team showing and an extremely disappointing, sub-standard outcome and saw manager Steve Castle brand it a “disastrous day”.
A newcomer to our division watching this game would have been hard placed to distinguish which team was the rock bottom club and which was supposedly a promotion place front-runner. Credit to North Greenford who battled throughout and capitalised on the bad day for the Crows earning themselves a precious point.
Going into this next three match programme it was felt that 9 points were achievable and this would build on the recent good work and cement our promotion challenge – but to fall at the first – and arguably easiest – hurdle is concerning.
After a reasonably positive start on a soft, but playable pitch, that had areas that were swamp like, we saw a Jack Bradshaw looping header cleared off of the line and on 22 minutes it was the Crows that took the lead when a free-kick looked like it was going to be hit left footed by Chris Watters, but skipper Scott Bridges pulled rank and sent in a mid-height effort that clipped the wall and deceived young home keeper Lewis Todd enough to hit the corner of the net. 0-1.
Three minutes later and it was all square in bizarre head in hands circumstances. The scoring in this match was completed when the home team floated their own free-kick in and it was met by an innocuous header from North Greenford captain Liam Hind that went lobbed high and direct to what should have been an easy catch for Ron Yates. Yates dropped the ball and we all watched agonisingly as it squirmed through his legs and into the goal. 1-1.
The rest of the half was a cornucopia of untaken half chances and wayward and ill-judged passing from the increasingly frustrated Crows as the ratcheting tension was vocal and often, interspersed with the Blues having their own share of unconverted work fall short in front of the Royston goal.
Castle, visibly and audibly frustrated with his team, made a three man substitution on 60 minutes replacing Liam McDevitt (carrying an injury) with Tommy Hull at centre half, striker Simon Thomas as a direct swap with Gary Cohen and Ryan Towner gave way in midfield for Josh Castiglione.
Castiglione was given the midfield break up role but struggled to get in the game – being quickly shifted to a more wider position as the formation shifted to a straight 4-4-2.
Royston continued in their score seeking endeavour but were still poor in front of goal – Cohen looked to have a strong case for a penalty as he was clearly fouled in the box but the referee was having none of it. It was clear that both sides fancied a winner – but it was not to be.
To add injury to insult Daniel Brathwaite pulled up and with no substitutes left was thrown up front leaving Tommy Hull – the only bright spark in a dark day – to defend intelligently and resolutely.
Further despair from all watching as Bradshaw saw a straight red card late on as he made a tackle deemed reckless enough to receive his marching orders.
Reece Dobson had a chance to win the game for the Crows at the death finding himself centrally through on goal only to blast his low effort at the keeper who parried with his legs and the chance to rescue the win was gone.
Two dropped points.
Royston have the chance to redeem themselves as early as Tuesday as the rearranged fixture at home versus second from bottom Leighton Town gives welcome opportunity to show today’s game as an unfortunate but painful blip.
Team: Yates, May, Watters, McDevitt (Hull), Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Towner (Castiglione), Bradshaw, Thomas (Cohen), Dobson, Hoenes.
Subs not used – Scott-Morriss, Okay.