|Date||Saturday 9 November 2013|
|Match||Ashford Town (Middx) v Royston Town
|Competition||Calor League: Central Division One
|Royston Scorers||Hammond, Ingrey
After the resignation of Paul Attfield, Caretaker Manager Duncan Easley was called upon to rally his troops for an away trip to second from bottom Ashford Town on a cold and breezy Saturday afternoon. The starting line-up was interesting with Easley choosing to give Ross Collins an immediate recall after suspension and to start Luke Robins, who has noticeably been struggling for recent form.
A few early loose long balls quickly ceased and Royston started to get the ball down and play some football and the first real effort on goal came from a delivered free kick for Craig Hammond to provide a neat lay off for Joe DeLaSalle to blast high over the bar. Some midfield gentle sparring saw the referee overly fussy with stoppages. Mitchell Bryant provided Luke Robins with a half chance seeing him spin and shoot with the Ashford keeper making a smart stop and the resultant loose ball was hacked clear. With the home side slightly quicker to the loose balls a sharp dig shot saw George Lawton make the first of a few quality stops as Ashford pushed on and tested the Crows’ back line. On 21 minutes Lawton punched away and the home side shot came straight back over the crossbar. The usually impressive Lewis Endacott wasn’t having the best of times today, visibly struggling with his player and his surges forward were not quite working today.
A Ross Collins free-kick and Jack Bradshaw shot was again blocked away for a corner by the resilient home keeper and another free-kick, this time delivered by Bradshaw saw Robins connect well and a half-hearted hand-ball shout followed as the ball struck a defender’s arm. The midfield tussle continued with Ryan Ingrey toiling admirably, keeping forward motion pressure up. On 34 minutes Endacott’s centre circle lunging tackle was deemed dangerous enough for the referee to show a straight red card, when it would seem most people expected a yellow.
Undistracted the Crows’ kept their concentration and three minutes later the hard-working Ingrey won a free-kick that Bradshaw sent over and striker Hammond headed home unchallenged to take the lead. Lawton made an extremely important save as Ashford looked to level and full on collective defending from Bradshaw and De La Salle helped out their keeper when he needed them. Some loss of heads on both sides saw Mitchell Bryant and his marker, Quaseem Sotonia, each receive a pacifying yellow card and the half meandered to an end.
As the teams retook the field it was apparent Easley had removed Bryant for his own protection and veteran Adie Cambridge entered the fray. Royston were livelier at the start of this half and some early momentum forced the home side back and a long throw from Cambridge found Ingrey only for him to be obviously fouled in the box but the referee chose to wave play-on. Exciting winger, Luke Robins was having a better time today and some of his on the ball play had showings of his old self especially when running full on at the defenders.
The home side were certainly not out of this game and whilst Royston were sitting a bit deeper they continued to probe with the visitors looking to retaliate with speedy breaks. Some sloppy play by the Crows saw Ashford’s best chance to score with a right wing cross coming in low but the centre forward couldn’t connect when at least a shot on target seemed basic.
Ashford had their own hand-ball penalty shout that received similar disdain from the official and Royston good movement; albeit some poor passing, kept this close match bubbling. A well struck home side free-kick brought a superb double save from Mr Lawton and this action spurred Easley to change a couple of things with twenty minutes to go – young defender Billy Baird came on for the more attack minded Robins and Rob Mason replaced the hard-working Hammond upfront – this re-grouping move saw the away team defiant and looking to hold what they had as they soaked up some determined, but inert Ashford pressure with the crowd seeing the ball cleared long and hard up-field.
Baird found himself one on one with the keeper from a long ball but the home stopper did well to block. Ingrey’s impressive match fitness shone in the last ten minutes, firstly putting in a fine run and cross that was not converted, then setting up Cambridge to lay off just behind the hyped up Mason and Ingrey’s surge down the right put the floundering left back Sotonia in a no win position, choosing to hack down the rampant midfielder, only to see the inevitable second yellow card.
It fell to Ingrey to finish off Ashford as a good run and unselfish sideways lay off by Cambridge was slotted home by the young midfielder to seal the victory.
Team: Lawton, Endacott, Parr, Bradshaw, De La Salle, Spencer, Collins (c), Ingrey, Hammond (Mason), Bryant (Cambridge), Robins (Baird). Subs not used – Edwards, Murray.