|Date||Saturday 18 February 2017|
|Match||Marlow v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Nolan, Castiglione|
This was always going to be a tough game one way or the other. Marlow FC were in third place going into this match and it is always a difficult place to visit.
Steve Castle made one change in the starting line-up giving Ryan Frater a start and resting the partly injured Adam Murray on the bench. Matt Nolan’s recent goal tally of 8 goals in 4 games gave him the nod over John Frendo.
It was a scrappy start for both teams on this decent surface as neither side could get any real foot-hold and the game was punctuated by numerous cheap free-kicks – but the first real chance on goal came in the 9th minute as man mountain striker Chid Onokwai for the home side broke through but his shot went across the face of the Crow’s goal.
Again the lack of fluidity in the game continued until Mr Nolan did it again. In the 17th minute some good link up play between the striker and the once again impressive Josh Castiglione fell back to Nolan to power a waist height shot past the keeper defending the near post and it was accurate and hard enough to evade both obstacles for his 9th goal in 5 games. 0-1.
Now games are won with goals – but once in front the defending and goalkeeping are vital. This season Royston’s keeper Joe Welch, has continually proved why he is without question the best goalkeeper in this division. Called into action on 19 minutes, he spread himself well and deflected a point blank shot over the bar to keep his team leading.
Both teams exchanged half blows up to the break as Martel Powell had a shot blocked, Onokwai again threatened for the hosts and Castiglione went close from a training ground corner routine.
Kaan Fehmi had the best chance on 37 minutes finding himself clear through coming in from the right but Simon Grant in the Marlow goal, did enough to block the low shot on target.
Castiglione ended the half as he began it by being a thorn in his opponent’s side and again he had Grant scrambling to keep out a shot on goal.
The lively half, not without controversial incident, ended with the Crows taking a one goal lead into the dressing room.
It has to be said that for 40 minutes of the second half the Crows were doing the ugly work that this stage of seasons always need. Break up play and shirt sleeves rolled up sheer hard endeavour was called for and executed. It wasn’t pretty – but it was effective. Marlow had several chances that were either blocked or saved but chances at the other end for the Crows to put the game out of sight were very few.
Castle used all his substitutes to help the cause – swapping Kaan Fehmi for Rod Orlando-Young, Adam Watkins for Spyros Mentis and finally Matt Nolan for a particularly fired up John Frendo.
This extra momentum brought the second game clinching goal.
On 84 minutes following a stoppage as Frendo had got clattered and was receiving treatment, a long throw was put in by Orlando-Young and Ryan Frater got the backwards flick and Scott Bridges did enough the put off Grant from gathering cleanly and with the ball spilt Castiglione finished calmly past the covering defenders. 0-2.
With a minute to go and showing his alertness Welch made the save of the game, athletically diving and tipping over a superb overhead kick that was going in top corner – absolutely brilliant save!
The game ended with a good two-nil win on the road against hard opponents – who didn’t give the Crows an inch – but the valiant Royston team dug deep and delivered what was needed not for the first time this season.
Team: Welch, Towner, Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Frater, Bridges Stuart, Fehmi (Orlando-Young), Watkins (Mentis), Nolan (Frendo), Powell, Castiglione.
Subs not used – Murray, May.