|Date||Tuesday 21 February 2017|
|Match||Ashford Town (Middx) v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Own Goal, Fehmi, May, Frendo|
Mid-week away game performances this season have been much improved compared to last year – but the Crows may still have had their last away Tuesday night encounter at Kidlington a month ago on their minds. But in true one game at a time applied attitude they brushed aside an early set-back and showed all watching the strength in depth of this impressive squad to keep the title chasing campaign firmly on track.
Steve Castle must be envied by many rival managers at this level – but his and Chris Watters’ match by match task to select an appropriate starting line-up from a squad of nineteen engaged and capable candidates cannot be easy.
Castle moved Dan Brathwaite to centre-back tonight – still giving Adam Murray good recovery time – and resting Stuart Bridges. Danny May came in at left back. Spyros Mentis and Rod Orlando-Young got starts tonight.
It wasn’t the beginning that the Crows travelling faithful had hoped for. One minute in and they were one down. A central move caught the Royston defenders flat-footed and Bayley Mummery struck a superb high lobbed effort past Joe Welch before he could really react. 1-0. This was the first time in 2017 that the Crows had gone behind in a game.
A bit dazed from this early blow the Crows stumbled through the first fifteen minutes of this game, trying hard to get some passing possession and control going – but the home team, buoyed by the early goal – were closing down well and not allowing their visitors to play anywhere near the standard needed.
A well delivered Danny May hanging corner went unconverted and nine minutes in Royston had another scare as a break away saw Dan Fleming rattle Welch’s cross bar and over.
Pass by pass, tackle by tackle the Crows gained some momentum and significant control and you could see them all slowly relaxing into this match.
A good period of play brought the equaliser. Rod Orlando-Young found himself through on goal and a flicked left foot shot was palmed wide for a corner on 13 minutes. The corner was again sent in dangerously by May and we saw Ryan Frater make his run to the near post – the ball was dummied by the big man and arrived to Ashford’s Max Webb fast and uncontrollable and he parried into his own net under significant challenge from Dan Brathwaite. 1-1.
Five minutes later and the much more dominant Crows took the lead. A fine through ball by Adam Watkins found Kaan Fehmi who had an easy chance to score as the keeper slipped before he could reasonably challenge and Fehmi wheeled away celebrating as he edges towards the 100 goal mark for the club.
This was more like it and another effort from Fehmi nearly brought another Webb own goal and Matt Nolan knows he should have done better on 26 minutes when through on goal following a defender mix up but his scuffed shot was well saved by Tyler Tobin in the Ashford goal.
The third Royston goal came on the half hour mark and Danny May doesn’t score tap ins. Scott Bridges worked hard to retain possession on the left side of the box as he sought options for a pass and with May lurking in space he was found and from 19 yards he struck a beauty through players to hit the back of the net with power and placement. Nice. 1-3.
A just wide Fehmi diving headed attempt saw us through to the half time break.
A half time straight swap brought John Frendo on for Matty Nolan.
The Crows started much more on the front foot this half and their pressure brought a penalty on 51 minutes as Adam Watkins was upended. Scott Bridges stepped up but uncharacteristically blasted the spot kick high over the bar.
Orlando-Young was tormenting Ashford today with his jinking runs and they had no real answers apart from fouling him and the under par referee certainly gave him little or no protection. A fine move on 54 minutes nearly brought the winger a goal. A cut back by Bridges was cleverly dummied by Frendo and Orlando-Young arrived to shoot low. Tobin did well with a save with his legs although he might not have known much about it.
Despite being ahead the Crows were keen to kill this game off with another goal but a patchy period of play seemed to give their hosts a meagre hope of getting a score back.
However, the game was put to bed with more good link up play between Frendo and man of the match Orlando-Young. An elongated one-two move split the defenders and found the veteran striker in a central position and he finished the move with an expert first time shot into the net. 1-4.
Substitution time and Fehmi was replaced by Martel Powell and Brathwaite was straight-swapped for Stuart Bridges.
It was mainly the Crows looking to extend their lead with Orlando-Young still lively. Inexplicably the referee chose not to award a clear free-kick and possible cards as the tricky wide player was cynically sandwiched and double foully challenged in what could have caused a serious injury – then adding to his poor decision booked Orlando-Young for his understandable protest.
The game was won and played out to a convincing 4-1 on the road win for the rampant Crows putting them 8 points clear and still with a game in hand over main rivals Farnborough. We now look forward to a juicy home game with in form AFC Dunstable on Saturday. Keep it going boys!
Team: Welch, Towner, May, Bridges Scott, Frater, Brathwaite (Bridges Stuart), Fehmi (Powell), Watkins, Nolan (Frendo), Mentis, Orlando-Young.
Subs not used – Murray, Castiglione.