|Date||Wednesday 25 September 2013|
|Match||Aylesbury United v Royston Town
|Competition||Calor League: Division One Central
||Joe De La Salle
Some days you have to dig in and win ugly and tonight was definitely one of those days – the Crows took on the Ducks and had the last peck.
With a squad ravaged by injury, suspensions and unavailability, missing eight senior players – Mason, Theobald, Parr, Lockett, Robins, Endacott, Nightingale and Pepper – Paul Attfield was once again forced to look to prominent fringe players to bolster his depleted numbers, calling up John Bitting and Billy Baird to play at full backs, knowing they would give 100% effort to the black and white cause.
Aylesbury United’s home form at the start of this season has been poor and despite the Crows’ player problems, Royston still had the possibility of using this tricky mid-week away game in hand to rise to fourth in the league.
This was a decent open game to watch for the neutral with chances being created at both ends but notably the distinct absence of clinical finishing in the final third for both sides kept this match at nil-nil until the last minutes.
With Royston surging forward, winning early corners we saw Jack Bradshaw have an early chance blasting the ball goal-ward to see it blocked away and John Bitting pressing high to see his shot go wide. Ross Collins followed up a half-cleared Adie Cambridge free-kick with a volley that went well high and wide. Twenty minutes in and the Ducks get their first real foothold with a half effort by Dom Petrucci and a probing run by Zack Reynolds causing problems and Jason Blackett prodded a decent chance just over the bar.
A Crows free-kick in a dangerous position was powered over by Joe De La Salle and the home side fired back with their own dead ball kick seeing the rebounding blocked effort put over by Lee Grace. Again Bradshaw, up from centre-half, struck a corner, delivered low, over the Aylesbury goal. The Ducks stepped up a gear and forced Royston back with some sustained pressure in the last ten minutes of the half. A firm home team effort from a corner was frantically cleared off the line and the visitors temporarily lost man mountain Joe DeLaSalle to a head injury causing more strain to the creaking back line and a panicked cheap foul brought a right-wing free-kick that was delivered well and a classic goalmouth scramble ensued only to see the ball hacked away. Aylesbury’s best effort of the match came in the dying seconds of the first half with Grace putting in an acrobatic volley that smacks off the Royston cross-bar and away. The whistle brought some respite to the beleaguered visitors and gave them chance to fully patch up De La Salle.
Again the Crows started the livelier in the half forcing two early blocks from the Ducks’ defenders and with the Royston defence now back to a full complement with Joe DeLaSalle bandaged a la Terry Butcher and continuing his warrior like performance at the heart, it could be seen that the visitors whilst being forced back for short periods were always looking for forward motion. Royston’s best chance of opening the scoring so far came ten minutes in with left back Billy Baird putting in an exciting and powerful run up the left and delivering a fine pass to find Mitchell Bryant six yards out with goal exposed only to see the Crows’ forward put his effort over the bar. With this already even and competitive game getting stretched the action swung from end to end with George Lawton in the Royston goal being called upon to make important blocks and catches and getting the ball forward quickly and with purpose – Lawton gratefully grasped a loose scrappy deflection as Aylesbury continued to probe. On the hour the Royston bench called for more quality and a couple of short injury breaks allowed both sides to re-group slightly and this dead-locked match continued being played in a committed and fair manner.
The Ducks saw a spin and shot go wide and the Crows saw a Ryan Ingrey surge forward just lacking a shot. On the 76th minute Attfield must have had mixed feelings as he had to replace the influential, but injured, Jack Bradshaw with the returning strike-force that is Kaan Fehmi, making his first team season debut following a broken bone in his foot and this alone was a positive for the squad depleted Crows.
Fehmi almost immediately had an impact with a clever curling shot that hit the base of the far post as everyone froze and the ball bounced away from any preying forwards. Royston made their last substitution with about five minutes plus injury time to go with 17 year old Callum Turner replacing Bryant and the Crow’s urgency to get more from this game was plain to see.
Ninety minutes plus gone and cometh the hour and a half, cometh the man – Following some purposeful build up play the persistent Craig Hammond unleashed a superb long range half volleyed drive that beat home keeper Jack Sillitoe and crashed centrally against the bar to rebound to see hyper alert, super fit and totally committed Royston hero Ross Collins prod home under severe pressure from a home defender.
The last minute saw Lawton called upon to punch away well and the final whistle went to the pleasure of the away team and support but to the huge dismay of the Aylesbury noisy faithful who must have thought they had done enough to earn at least a point from this fragmented – but overall entertaining match.
Man of the match was without doubt the superb Joe DeLaSalle who despite being laid low with a migraine earlier in the week was solid at the back, winning every header, despite taking a nasty head blow and needing stitches – This is what victory is made of – blood, sweat and JDLS sized courage.
Team: Lawton, Bitting, Baird, Bradshaw (Fehmi), De La Salle, Spencer, Cambridge (C), Collins, Ingrey, Hammond, Bryant (Turner).
Sub not used – Edwards.