|Date||Monday 17th April 2017|
|Match||Arlesey Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Fehmi, Scott Bridges, Ingrey(2)|
Steve Castle used this dead rubber Bank Holiday fixture to try out some new players and positions. We saw first team league debuts for Romelle Alomenu, Tom Canham and Michael Baulk with Alomenu starting at left back and Canham and Baulk on the bench. In a much-changed positional line-up we saw Scott Bridges and Danny May at centre back, Ryan Towner slotting back in at right back, a midfield of Spyros Mentis, Martel Powell and recently rarely played assistant manager Chris Watters. Up front we found Ryan Ingrey, 100 goal seeking Kaan Fehmi and usual centre-back Adam Murray at centre-forward.
The game started with the new-look defence finding it hard to settle and gel and 11 minutes in, after some stretched defending, Dom Morgillo punished the confusion and curled a good shot past Joe Welch. 1-0.
Royston found their feet and pushed the home team back, first with a free-kick delivered by Bridges that Ingrey helped on to Murray and the ball fell back to Ingrey but there was no real shot, then Murray’s strength brought a great solo effort that hit the bar and then Watters put a long shot over the bar.
The scores were levelled with a moment of history as popular striker Kaan Fehmi got his 100th goal for the Crows. On 19 minutes, another Bridges delivered free-kick was won by Murray, and Fehmi was on hand to tap in from three yards. 1-1.
Almost immediately Arlesey hit back with a well struck long shot by Taylor Rhiney that lobbed over Welch. 2-1. Welch had to be alert a minute later making a good stop as Arlesey looked to punish more sloppy backline work.
Royston were awarded a penalty on 24 minutes when Murray put his head into a lowish bouncing ball and was kicked aside the temple and the referee deemed this dangerous enough play to award a spot-kick. Scott Bridges resumed penalty taking duty and made no mistake. 2-2.
Danny May sprung forward from his defensive role on 29 minutes, linking up well with Watters and put a snap shot over the bar.
With Murray proving troublesome for the Arlesey defenders – it surprisingly took until the 44th minute for the Crows to take the lead. A trademark well delivered high cross by Watters had goal-keeper Bart Pedrycz scrambling and Ingrey bravely read the situation better and the ball fell on his head and lobbed in. 2-3.
It was a bizarre and open half of football, much different from what we have been used to watching, not un-entertaining, but certainly not fully controlled or tight at the back.
Kaan Fehmi left the game at half-time to be replaced up front by Rod Orlando-Young.
It was early second half pressure from the Crows with some close efforts but it was the hosts who nearly scored next. Bridges was adjudged to foul for a penalty and Jack Vasey struck the spot kick on 54 minutes but Welch got down well to save.
Chris Watters gave way for Tom Canham in midfield on 55 minutes and seventeen-year old Michael Baulk made his first team debut coming on for Adam Murray on 62 minutes.
The scores were levelled on 64 minutes with Jack Vasey lobbing Welch after some loose marking. 3-3.
Royston regained the lead on 76 minutes with Orlando-Young involved – his powerful shot was only parried by Pedrycz and Ingrey was there to follow in. 3-4.
In a bizarre last ten minutes as Royston pushed forward for more goals – but left themselves woefully exposed at the back enough for Arlesey to swing the deficit score to victory.
Orlando-Young delivered a corner that Ingrey dummied and Bridges, now pushed into midfield, headed wide on 80 minutes.
Arlesey again drew level on 84 minutes with an absolute gift of a suicidal ball across the defence that was seized and finished well by Vasey.
Again, the Crows hit back from a May corner delivered high and Baulk headed over at the back post.
The game was won as Royston again exposed their soft under-belly and were suitably punished. A Vasey pass found substitute Rafe Goodman who struck his shot past Welch. 5-4.
A last ditch Bridges free-kick was easily saved on 93 minutes and the referee brought this open and strangely entertaining game to an end.
Team: Welch, Towner, Alomenu, Bridges Sco, Murray (Baulk), Mentis, Fehmi (Orlando-Young), May, Ingrey, Powell, Watters (Canham).
Subs not used – Frendo, Castiglione.