|Date||Saturday 8th April 2017|
|Match||Fleet Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
This match succumbed to the classic after the main event scenario being a low-key follow up to the fantastic achievement of securing the Southern League Central Division title in the week and the much-coveted promotion to the Premier Division.
Steve Castle used this effectively dead rubber game to rest certain players who have played through multiple niggles and knocks to get us over the line. Internal targets have been set though and the squad will be asked to re-focus on these to see the normal season out and lead up to the Champions Cup match that will be played against Hereford United on 29th April.
We saw Dan Brathwaite being given a start at left back, Spyros Mentis handed the anchor role, Kaan Fehmi asked to play wider, with the absence of Rod Orlando-Young who is currently on trial with Bundesliga club RB Leipzig. With much played Ryan Towner and Adam Watkins rested we also saw a debut bench place for seventeen year old Michael Baulk.
With the Crows battling up the incline first half this was a scrappy first period of play with neither team settling in the warm April sunshine.
It was 12 minutes in before the visitors managed an effort on the home goal. Scott Bridges swung in a free-kick and John Frendo rose to head well wide. Fleet hit back with a soft move up the middle that went unchallenged but their shot was also off target.
We had an exchange of keeper kicks that went down as a shot on target by Joe Welch.
On 25 minutes Fleet threatened down the right and flashed a shot across Welch’s goal that was the wake-up call that the Crows needed to fully engage an on 31 minutes a Gus Scott-Morriss free-kick was headed goalward by Scott Bridges but an easy keeper catch.
On 34 minutes the scoring was opened with some better work by Fehmi, switched to left wing, and he cut back and delivered a perfect hanging cross giving Frendo ample time to assess and deliver a well-directed header across the keeper and in. 0-1.
No further action or score up to half-time.
At half time Castle again looked at minor aches, pains and knocks to protect players and removed Josh Castiglione and Adam Murray from the action replacing with Ryan Ingrey and Ryan Frater.
This was a low tempo half where the Crows never really got into second gear. Skipper Bridges did put a good shot just over on 52 minutes but Fleet got an equalising goal from a clear handball inducing penalty hat Ben White stuck past Welch on 59 minutes. 1-1.
Royston’s last substitution was made on 61 minutes as Mentis, nursing a painful shoulder, was replaced by Watkins.
The Crows toiled in the heat but it was Fleet who equally felt they could win the three points against a clearly under par opponent.
Frendo flicked on to Fehmi who shot over on 70 minutes, Fleet wasted a good free-kick opportunity on 78 minutes, Fehmi made the keeper dive and work on 82 minutes and Fleet hit the side-netting a minute later.
Two really good efforts by Watkins in the last few minutes nearly nicked it for the Crows but both shots went just wide and there would be no three points today. Full time 1-1.
On to next Saturday when Royston Town will be presented with the league winners’ trophy after their home game against Aylesbury United, which is being called “Champions Day” and is a “pay what you want” to gain entrance to be part of this historic day for the Crows.
Team: Welch, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite, Mentis (Watkins), Murray (Frater), Bridges Stu, Powell, Bridges Sco, Frendo, Fehmi, Castiglione (Ingrey).
Subs not used – Towner, Baulk.