|Date||Saturday 18th March 2017|
|Match||Farnborough v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Castiglione, Ingrey, Sco Bridges|
Team: Welch, Towner, Scott-Morriss, Bridges Scott, Frater, Bridges Stuart, Orlando-Young (Ingrey), Watkins (May), Frendo (Nolan), Powell, Castiglione.
Subs not used – Fehmi, Brathwaite.
This was Royston’s biggest challenge for some weeks and their winning run of eleven games – impressive at any level – was pitted against the decent recent form of their second placed opponents. The Farnborough stadium is without doubt one of the best at this level of football and despite the incongruous low attendance of 312 certainly added to the big match feel.
Title hungry Steve Castle stuck with a reasonably unchanged starting line-up, with Adam Murray still suspended, and the whole squad looked suitably focussed on this important game.
The first ten minutes of this game was mainly the home side testing the Crows notably with a dangerous cross on 4 minutes that had to be palmed away by Joe Welch, but especially buoyed when Royston were briefly down to ten men as Rod Orlando-Young went down twice needing attention and after a swift Farnborough break and shot wide in the sixth minute was substituted on 7 minutes with Ryan Ingrey getting involved in this game earlier than he could have expected.
Royston weathered this early home side pressure and it was the 12th minute before they got enough forward momentum of their own to create a chance with Gus Scott-Morriss delivering a high lofted cross and Ingrey managing an on target, albeit soft, headed attempt that was easily caught by Zak Oualah in the Yellows’ goal.
Again, Farnborough broke bringing an important block from Stuart Bridges and the play swung back up the other end and this time the scoring was opened.
On 18 minutes John Frendo placed Josh Castiglione in on goal with a fine defence splitting pass and with defender John Oyenuga chasing, the youngster cut in and placed an accurate finish past the exposed Oualah. 0-1.
Royston had their tails up as this score brought confidence, efforts by Martel Powell, Ryan Frater, Castiglione and Ingrey again asked questions but these attempts were not on target.
Farnborough equalised on the breakaway after Scott Bridges had been manoeuvred clumsily off the ball as he was about to pull the trigger and a move was made with the Yellows finding width on the right with Oyenuga playing a reverse ball back to Scott Donnelly to convert accurately on 32 minutes. 1-1.
With the Crows looking lively when going forward it was clear that their defence were being stretched and challenged by the decent Yellows’ attack force and a softly conceded free-kick on 40 minutes placed 25 yards out never looked to be set for resistance and the ball was sent over the wall for Welch to scramble across and possibly tip upwards onto the bar only to see the more alert Curtis Osano to arrive and head the loose ball in. 2-1.
Half time and the Crows trailed in this competitive and entertaining match that was being played as much on the nerves of all concerned as it was on the players’ footballing skills.
The start of the second half was much cagier from both sides and it was the Crows that seized the initiative grabbing a good goal and bringing the score back level.
Skipper Scott Bridges, having a quieter than normal match, found some space in the Farnborough penalty area in the 56th minute and being forced, whilst surrounded by three defenders, onto the right-side by-line produced a brilliant high hanging far post cross that was inviting a header and there was no stopping the in motion Ingrey who arrived perfectly to head home powerfully from 2 yards. This was Ryan Ingrey’s 50th goal for the club and the 100th scored by the team in the league this season.2-2.
Straight after this goal we saw Adam Watkins pole-axed in a challenge that deserved a yellow card at least, and a change was needed with Watkins leaving the pitch painfully and needing a stretcher to complete the journey to the changing room. Danny May came on as replacement at full-back and strangely Gus Scott-Morriss was moved to a midfield role with Ryan Towner, a more experienced midfielder, being left at right back.
This tight and level game continued with clear chances being at a premium for both sides.
John Frendo was replaced by Matt Nolan on 66 minutes.
It took an out of character, nightmare inducing moment for the usually superb Royston keeper Joe Welch to gift Farnborough the lead. A high miss-hit effort on 71 minutes by Donnelly looked to be Welch’s simplest save of the season – but he inexplicably dropped the ball in front of himself giving the following in Perry Coles the easiest header in. 3-2.
With the Yellows looking to waste and play out time at every juncture it did seem that this important, but not vital, three points would be staying with the home team – but anyone who has watched most Crows’ games this season should know it isn’t done until the final whistle has been blown.
Ninety plus minutes and up steps the skipper Scott Bridges who was adjudged to have been fouled centrally about 21 yards out. Top scorer Bridges, not for the first time this season, swung a good shot around the wall to test the positioning of the keeper. Oualah made good contact to stop and should have done better but the ball had enough on it to squirm through and nestled in the Farnborough goal. 3-3.
Game over and honours even today – On now to a home game versus Kempston Rovers next Saturday, when the league title cannot be secured – but another big step forward certainly can be witnessed.