|Date||Saturday 3 December 2016|
|Match||Kempston Rovers v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Brathwaite, Murray|
At the end of the 2016/2017 season – if Royston Town achieve their undisguised ambition for promotion – they may look back at this isolated away game versus third placed Kempston Rovers and possibly view this hard won three away points as a pivotal moment.
Steve Castle selected an unchanged back four despite Adam Murray being fit and ready and the Crows were without Joe Welch and John Frendo due to suspension so the tried and tested spine of his in form team was much changed for this important game. Starts for Haydn Dodge and Simon Thomas filled these crucial positions. We also saw new signing Rod Orlando-Young on the bench ready for action.
The vocal, but good natured home crowd enjoyed the first half much more than the Royston contingent as the Crows – not without desire or endeavour – knocked on the door of the Kempston resolve more than once – but were visibly lacking in composure and noticeably devoid of the cutting edge that recently has been apparent across the front line.
The lively Josh Castiglione had four good chances in the first twenty minutes to score seeing two effort blasted over, one no shot and a good firm on target effort well saved by Kempston’s diminutive keeper Martin Conway.
It was however the home side who seized the initiative in the ninth minute profiting from a poor Royston free kick and sprung a swift breakaway that saw the Crows exposed and they failed to recover before a shot from league top scorer Danny Watson was half stopped – but the ball fell nicely to Dom Marsala who completed the move. 1-0.
The one bright spot of the first half was Ryan Ingrey who was working hard first up the right then following a wing switch continued up the left hand side. In the 21st minute Ingrey’s power created a surging run inside the box and his low hard cross into the six-yard box just needed a touch from someone to convert but sped through without connection.
It was only the home side who were going to increase their lead in the latter minutes of the first half as on 37 minutes the recently prolific Watson spurned a great chance to double his team’s lead but he rushed his close in shot and scooped it high and over and following more Kempston pressure in the 45th minute big Ryan Frater made an important shot stopping block which was then followed immediately by an alert and vital save from Dodge.
A half time substitution saw Ryan Towner leave the pitch and Spyros Mentis came on.
It was clear that the Crows were revved up from the half time regroup and they started with a momentum that was lacking in the first half. Castle made another change ten minutes in and brought on debutant Orlando-Young on for Castiglione. Orlando-Young’s introduction had a two-fold effect, firstly revitalising the right wing outlet and secondly demonstrating a new weapon in the form of a dangerous long throw. This increase of delivery must have prompted Castle’s third change when on 66 minutes Martel Powell departed the field and Adam Murray was thrown into the fray adding more height and power to the front line.
A minute later and the scores were equal. An improved and probing free kick in by Danny May found an unmarked Dan Brathwaite finding good space and he planted a really good header in the net. 1-1.
It was all Crows now as they pushed for the winner and Scott Bridges had a good chance as he connected well, but high, to another Orlando-Young cross in.
The deciding goal did come on 81 minutes as the overloaded defence had no answer to the row of big men up for a May corner and this time Murray got good initial headed connection but the defender’s simultaneous challenge forced the ball to loop up and over the crowd of defenders and the stranded Conway. 1-2.
The game was closed out professionally and a jubilant and relieved Royston knew that this was a vital, hard won and morale boosting three points that sent out a clear indication of the Crows resolve and resilience to overcome the undoubted challenges ahead.
Team: Dodge, Scott-Morriss, May, Bridges Scott, Frater, Brathwaite, Ingrey, Towner (Mentis), Thomas, Powell (Murray), Castiglione (Orlando-Young). Subs not used – Warner-Eley, Bridges Stuart.