|Date||Saturday 24 March 2012|
|Match||Hertford Town v Royston Town
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||Robins (2)|
|Man of Match||Carl Edwards
This was a tough game for The Crows who put in a determined performance against a new-look Hertford Town side that pushed them all the way to the end. The Blues who had had recent impressive wins at Leverstock Green (5-0) and Haringey Borough (2-1) worked hard throughout and despite playing the last 25 minutes with ten men due to the sending off of a central midfielder the numerical advantage hardly looked visible.
Royston themselves played a strong first half in which they possibly could have been winning by a larger margin. Their play was less fluent in the second half despite plenty of hard graft and the failure to get a more comfortable lead meant some nervous moments late on.
As in most games recently there were selection problems for Paul Attfield with centre halves John McGrandles and Jason Beck suspended serving one game bans and Martin Standen unavailable through work commitments. There was a starting place for new signing Jack Friend at centre half with both Ryan Lockett and Tom Malins returning to the squad after injuries.
The Crows started this contest on top of their game, moving the ball with good pace and quality but the first chance fell to Hertford on five minutes when a long ball fell behind the defence and with Will Norris stranded from goal a forward lobbed wide with the target open.
It was Royston that largely controlled the tempo and territory of the first period with good work from all positions as they tried to create chances. The reward of an early goal on 17 minutes was well earned when good work outside the area from Kaan Fehmi and a ball to Luke Robins saw the winger cut inside the full back and place a shot into the far corner from 14 yards.
Fehmi himself could have increased the lead when he ran onto a through ball but got too much on his lob and it went well over the crossbar.
It was unfortunate that it was when in possession of the ball that Royston should concede an equaliser just two minutes before half time. Having to make an enforced defensive change just moments before probably didn't help either as The Crows were still coming to terms with the reshuffle. Ashley Grinham was replaced by Ryan Lockett with positional changes around the back line to compensate. But Royston gave the ball away cheaply down the left and a quick ball forward released player-manager Marvin Samuel who slipped the ball under the advancing Norris.
Fortunately for Royston they were able to restore the lead within a minute of the restart. Fehmi's ball in from the left should have been dealt with but the six yard clearance opportunity was miskicked straight to Luke Robins who placed the ball into the corner from eight yards.
The Crows had two further chances to increase the lead in first half injury time. First Jack Bradshaw met a left sided corner full on the volley from ten yards but blazed just over and seconds before half time Matt Standen got behind the Hertford defence but lobbed tamely into the keeper's hands
The second half was more even in terms of possession and chances. The Crows continually working hard but lacked the spark on the ball they had enjoyed in the first half, with most of the play contained within midfield areas.
Hertford could have been level within seconds of the restart when they got behind The Crow's backline and the resulting cross was blocked and then scrambled away at the second attempt.
The game had a little scrappy period in which both teams received two cautions and a couple of scraps between players had to be sorted by the referee. However it was a Hertford player that took matters a little too far with another poor tackle that earned him a second caution and red card.
Ricky Young replaced Kaan Fehmi mid-way through the half and both he and Matt Standen had chances from narrow angles that went wide of the target.
As the half wore on the visitors began to give up possession a little cheaply and some longer balls forward and set play deliveries caused some late problems. A half cleared free kick was struck goalwards from 25 yards but turned wide by Will Norris and another free kick delivery from half way was somehow allowed to drop just eight yards from goal but Jack Bradshaw reacted quickest to avert the danger and clear.
Despite the urgency of Hertford they were unable to create anything clear cut from open play and The Crows played out to the final whistle without further concerns and added another hard earned three points to their tally.
Team: Norris, Endacott, Grinham (Lockett), Friend, Bradshaw, Collins, Edwards, Clemo, Fehmi (Young), Matt Standen (Malins), Robins – Unused: Lawrence, Redford