|Date||Saturday 29th April 2017|
|Match||Hereford v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Championship|
|Result||Lost 0-0 (5-4 on penalties)|
Royston Town travelled the long distance to play Hereford in the Champions Cup match as the season closer with both sides already division winners and promoted to Step 3 football next season.
It was a physical and competitive match and surprisingly no goals were scored, considering the two teams had notched a total of 229 goals between them in the normal season. However, it was clear why Hereford had only conceded 32 goals as they presented a solid wall in defence of big and strong, if not ball skilled gifted, players that stood resolute for most of the game.
In a game where some of the Royston players looked either wary or weary and not up to their usual level, it did look like the odd goal for either side might be enough, but though there were chances at both ends the net couldn’t be found in normal time.
It was the home side that probed early as the Crows found their feet, firstly a low cross that went straight across with no touch from anyone on 11 minutes, then a in-swerving corner that Joe Welch palmed away to safety on 13 minutes.
Royston’s pitch presence suffered as Adam Murray had to be substituted suffering a broken toe on 19 minutes and Spyros Mentis came on in his place.
The Crows had their first half chance on 22 minutes as the ball was crossed in from the left for John Frendo to lob a header on to the top of the goal.
The Bulls were slightly dominating this closely competitive game with the Crows being asked to work hard all over the pitch.
Both Scott Bridges and Frendo put shots in but neither troubled Martin Horsell in the Bulls’ goal and similarly the hosts had openings but didn’t make the most of them.
Half time 0-0.
Again, Hereford had the best of the early minutes of the second half and Welch had to be alert. The Bulls had a free kick on 53 minutes that was powered just over the bar.
One minute later a mix up in the Hereford defence found Horsell hopelessly stranded but Frendo put his speculative long-distance effort wide of the open goal.
Second Royston change saw Martel Powell off for Matt Nolan on 56 minutes.
A period of further home team pressure had the Crows scrambling and notably Mentis stopped a goal seeking shot with a superb block.
Welch made a stunning save on 75 minutes as the ball came through a crowd to his left and he dove to parry away brilliantly.
Steve Castle made his last change on 77 minutes bringing off a well contained Josh Castiglione for Ryan Towner.
With the game stretched and the Bulls on the front foot the Crows had a great chance on 83 minutes with a break-away and Rod Orlando-Young picked up the ball from Nolan on the left and cut inside for a right foot shot but the effort on goal summed up the winger’s afternoon and was scuffed and easy to deal with.
A minute later Hereford hit the post following a decent move and set up, but put the rebounded second shot well wide.
The game was played out as an entertaining, but goalless, draw. No extra-time and penalties would decide the cup.
Penalty 1 Danny May scores
Penalty 2 Scott Bridges scores
Penalty 3 Ryan Towner scores
Joe Welch saves Hereford’s fourth effort.
Penalty 4 Rod Orlando-Young misses target
Penalty 5 Gus Scott-Morriss scores
Penalty 6 John Frendo has penalty saved
Royston lose 5-4 on penalties.
This was an interesting and informative experience against a club that obviously have their eyes on higher levels than the one we are both moving into. The Crows competed admirably at times but were well contained in the final third. It is a shame to end such a successful season with a trophy defeat – but the whole squad should be more than proud of their fantastic achievements this season.
Team: Welch, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite, Bridges Sco, Murray (Mentis), Bridges Stu, Orlando-Young, May, Frendo, Powell (Nolan), Castiglione (Towner).
Subs not used – Watkins, Frater.