|Date||Saturday 14 September 2013|
|Match||Chesham United v Royston Town
|Competition||FA Cup with Budweiser: 1st Round Qualifying
|Royston Scorers||Mason, Lockett
The Royston Town faithful travelled the relatively short distance to watch their team take on Calor League Premier division team Chesham United, in the FA Cup First Qualifying round, Chesham are currently sitting in fourth position in their division, one up from the Crows, after a decent start to the season P7 W5 D1 L1.
It can easily be said that Royston haven’t hit second gear yet in their own league campaign and whilst injuries, suspensions and unavailability can be seen as definite reasons, the Crow’s loyal supporters always look to the next game to be the one that sparks the season into life. Possibly today was that game.
The match started with Chesham United applying pressure on the Royston defence, with quick and positive movement causing the back four of Endacott, Pepper, DeLaSalle and the returning Bradshaw to back pedal and chase as best they could. Four minutes in and the Generals’ penetration brought a fine block save from Royston stopper George Lawton and a couple of long ball giveaways saw the strikers in claret and blue keen to punish this slackness and the Crows’ backline was creaking. In a surge up-field Ryan Lockett, playing on the left, saw a turn and half shot easily saved and Robbie Nightingale watched a long effort calmly caught. Lawton was again called into last line action making a superb save from a right foot drive but inevitably Chesham’s overall early dominance was rewarded in the fifteenth minute when the home side’s number 10, Drew Roberts showed real quality cutting in from the left and putting an unstoppable left foot shot past the worryingly under siege Lawton. Two minutes later, more good space finding work from Roberts led to a shot that perhaps he could have taken earlier and this time Lawton was more than equal to it and brilliantly tipped the ball wide. It has to be said that this early home team pressure was looking ominous for the Crows who were clearly on the back foot and hopping.
Royston’s defiant defending was leading to long ball clearances that lone striker Robbie Mason was working hard to hold up and whilst the Crows were almost permanently playing with five in midfield when tracking back it looked like they were outnumbered at times. George Lawton again kept his team in this cup tie with an alert and brave one on one block again from the lively Roberts. Slowly the visitors started to get some sort of a foothold and for the next ten minutes Mason seemed involved more and a long lob shot saw Shane Gore in the General’s goal scrambling back to cover. Mason’s undoubted will to win saw him warned for an aggressive challenge and Nightingale traded yellow cards with an opponent as this true cup match simmered nicely.
Right midfielder, Ryan Ingrey was coming more into the attacking side of this game and a good persistent run was unfortunately not matched by a poor cross, but in the 44th minute Ingrey played a great ball forward for Lockett to run onto, seemingly narrowly beating the tight offside trap, taking it forward, drawing the keeper and playing a clever, unselfish, sideways pass for Mason to smash home to equalise this game and set it all up for the second period. Royston went to the dressing room without doubt buoyant with the 1-1 score-line and not without a grateful nod to the excellent work from their man in yellow, George Lawton.
The second half was a different game. If Royston expected more under the cosh defending from continued home side pass and move pressure it didn’t really work out like that. The link up play from the Crows was much better and some good football was put together. There was no-one on the pitch today who put in as much absolute running effort as the superb Ross Collins but when he found himself in a great position one on one with the home stopper there was no shot made.
Chesham United struggled to create the chances that we saw in the first half and Royston Town started to believe. Nightingale gave way to Adie Cambridge on the hour and the midfield battle continued. A fine Lewis Endacott run was not matched by the shot and whilst the pattern of play in this game had changed it was the Crows who were almost trying to force the football with Collins, Lockett and Ingrey all having half chances on goal. The best football move of the game saw Tom Pepper drive up the left wing, playing in Lockett for a cross that found Mason under pressure for a thumping header that went just wide, but still had the home keeper scrambling. Chesham won a series of three corners that almost swung the balance of play to their favour again – but the strong defending from Bradshaw and DeLaSalle was immense as they did their bit for their team in this exciting finale. Sam Spencer stepped up with a decent long shot effort and Mason again went close with a quality volley.
With ten minutes to go Paul Attfield sent on his last two substitutes with Carl Edwards and Mitchell Bryant coming on for Spencer and Ingrey and the home team did similar with two late changes. Even with the visitors having the better of this second half a replay seemed favourite – but this is the FA Cup where dreams are made. Ninety minutes gone and the ebullient, rambunctious and fantastic Robbie Mason seized the moment and sent over a right wing cross that skimmed the head of the desperate central defender landing awkwardly for Ryan Lockett to shoot low and accurate – home keeper Gore made a brilliant right hand save on the goal line – but the alert and determined Lockett followed up and buried the rebound to break the Chesham hearts. Full time 1-2.
What a great result for the Crows and without doubt a much improved football performance in the second half of this thrilling game. Let us all hope that it is the catalyst to inspire our season.
Team: Lawton, Pepper, Endacott, Bradshaw, De La Salle, Nightingale (Cambridge 60), Collins, Spencer (Edwards 81), Ingrey (Bryant 81), Mason, Lockett. Subs not used – Hammond, Parr.