|Date||Thursday 21 April 2016|
|Match||Aylesbury v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Frater, Towner, Scott Bridges|
To keep in title contention this was another must win game for Royston Town and for the first twenty minutes it was hard to see whether this tired looking team could muster the quality on an awful end of season pitch to get the vital win in this penultimate match – but the Crows showed their resilience in a second half performance was worthy of the three points and the automatic promotion place will go down to the last round of fixtures this Saturday.
Steve Castle once again changed many starting personnel – managing injuries, fatigue, resting players and having to deal with inexplicable unavailability for this stage of the season – to field a line up he felt worthy to get the job done against an Aylesbury team who had fell just short of a play-off place the week before.
It was a poor showing for the first period of this game as the Crows struggled to get any cohesive momentum and this disarray was punished on 9 minutes with a Moles move up the left wing to lead to a cross and a low finish from Gareth Price as the home side took the lead. 1-0.
Ryan Ingrey’s work rate and endeavour throughout this sub-standard period when the Crows were second best to most things was the only bright spot and he found himself targeted for some industrial tackles that the referee chose to “manage” rather than punish.
Following the Moles goal the Crows dug deep to improve their game play and there were certainly forward movement – but also worrying breaks from the home side that threatened to increase the deficit as Royston went back to basics to get things right.
On 35 minutes, and following one of many spoiling fouls by the Moles’ end of season defending, Scott Bridges delivered a hanging cross that drew home keeper, James Weatherill, out and Simon Thomas got his head there well and his looping connection fell almost in slow motion to giant central defender Ryan Frater to side foot volley home easily into an unguarded net from 5 yards. 1-1.
In a much improved period of play from the visitors, it was however the hosts who had the better opportunity to take a lead into the break – wasting a good chance with another left wing run and cross leading to a shot being blazed over the bar.
Half Time 1-1.
No immediate personnel changes and Castle had obviously asked his team for more and better and they certainly delivered in the second half dominating most areas of play – especially in midfield with another fine, and in control, game from Scott Bridges – and this upper hand led to the second Crows score just before the hour mark as Ryan Towner spotted an opening and put in a waist high shot from 25 yards that came through players and took a wicked poor-pitch bounce before eluding the diving Weatherill. 2-1
Two minutes later and it was three as Rhys Hoenes ran into the box on the right hand side to receive a hefty shove that sent him down as the keeper was advancing to narrow the angle. The referee awarded a penalty and Bridges cast aside his miss in the last match and powered the ball in with zeal. 3-1.
Castle immediately used this two goal advantage to rest players with an eye on Saturday and swapped Simon Thomas and Chris Watters for Rob Mason and Danny May and 8 minutes later replaced Rhys Hoenes for youngster Josh Castiglione.
With the Moles trying to provoke a reaction from a few of the Royston players with unnecessary off the ball afters and continuous wearing griping at the officials, the Crows efforts to see out this game was set back on 90 minutes as the Moles got a goal back from their only meaningful attack in the second half via a speedy breakaway and Brian Haule put the ball in the net. 3-2.
This brought on a nervous period of injury time, including a dangerous free-kick just outside the box that was conceded in mild panic, but stand in Crows’ keeper, Mayson Tewkesbury, did really well to tip over the sharp, dipping on target effort. The final whistle brought respite and Royston bagged the maximum points.
So to Saturday’s vital home game against fellow title seekers Egham Town – the winners of this match hoping that current leaders Kings Langley will drop points leaving the victors of the Crows vs Sarnies clash to take the top place and secure the promotion on the day.
Team: Tewkesbury, McDevitt, Watters (May), Frater, Hull, Bridges Scott, Okay, Towner, Ingrey, Thomas (Mason), Hoenes (Castiglione).
Subs not used – Powell, Bradshaw.