|Date||Monday 26 December 2016|
|Match||Histon v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Ingrey, Scott Bridges|
The Boxing Day derby between Histon and Royston drew a decent sized crowd of 293 and whilst it was not unentertaining to a neutral onlooker, it certainly wasn’t a spectacle of football, as the home side demonstrated why they are scrapping for every meagre point at the bottom end of the table and their visitors plumbed new depths of non-composure and lack of self-control.
Derbies can be heated affairs – but that is not what we saw today – we saw two committed teams battling for every ball, but no really bad tackles or malice, but we still witnessed three sending offs by a struggling referee who had an extremely poor game, badly positioned at most times, forcing himself to squint into the low winter sun, inexplicably guessing at big in-game decisions and seeming to be unduly influenced by the calls of both players and crowd.
Royston were sluggish and slow all game, but rallied enough in the second half to secure the three points, when their hosts may have thought they had done enough to win a precious point at least.
The opening salvoes were mainly from the Crows with decent wide play happening but no execution from the frontmen with hitman John Frendo having an extremely quiet game by his own standards. Debutant Histon keeper, Sam Roach, on loan from Leyton Orient and son of former Stutes’ Chairman, Tony Roach, performed well first making a good sharp low stop from Rod Orlando-Young then denying Ryan Ingrey from a close range header.
Royston’s back-line seemed fragmented today and Adam Murray and Gus Scott-Morriss were below par and causing problems for themselves and their comrades, bringing Haydn Dodge into action notably saving well from a low free-kick on 18 minutes following an incident when Murray picked up an early yellow card.
Adam Watkins shone for the Crows in the first half, involved in most things and linking well with Scott Bridges and bringing the wider players into play well and often.
Royston had a big penalty shout in the 35th minute when Bridges was shoved heartily but went down with extravagance getting no decision from the poorly placed official.
Histon stepped up their offensive and won a series of fringe of the box free-kicks as loose play from Scott-Morriss led to Murray conceding a cheap chance from a soft handball on 42 minutes. The free kick was initially blocked but fell to James Carmen who spun and connected well to find the net. 1-0.
The hosts led at half-time.
No immediate changes for the Crows as the first 15 minutes was not short of endeavour but producing no chances on Roach’s goal.
Steve Castle made his 60th minute substitutions with Orlando-Young and Watkins leaving the pitch to be replaced by Josh Castiglione and Spyros Mentis.
Again the Crows prodded with a Murray header and a half shout for handball in the box on 65 minutes. Royston’s persistence paid off as on 67 minutes a Danny May free-kick went deep and was neatly brought down by Ingrey who looked up and planted a perfect left foot lob over Roach and into the far corner from an acute angle – really good placement over the crowd of closing defenders. 1-1.
Last Crows’ sub on 69 mins saw Kaan Fehmi come on for Ryan Towner and Royston went about crafting some kind of winner.
The winning goal came in the 70th minute when another deep dead ball, this time from a corner, eluded everyone except Bridges who gathered calmly and shot low and hard through the throng and into the net. 1-2.
The strength of character from the Crows had been rewarded – but unfortunately we did not see calm heads seeing the game out. The last 15 minutes of this untidy and poorly refereed game brought second yellow cards for the Crows’ Adam Murray and the Stutes’ Shaun Jenkins and an added time a straight dismissal for Royston Captain Scott Bridges for an alleged elbow incident that the referee possibly did not witness and inexplicably allowed the game to significantly play on before being obviously influenced by the baying home players and producing the red card.
The game ended with another win for the Crows – but at the cost of future suspensions for two of their supposedly more experienced and vital players. Royston regain top position at the half way mark for the league season and there is no doubt 2017 will bring many twists and turns before the Central Division championship is decided.
Team: Dodge, Scott-Morriss, May, Bridges Scott, Brathwaite, Murray, Orlando-Young (Castiglione), Towner (Fehmi), Frendo, Watkins (Mentis), Ingrey.
Subs not used – Frater, Bridges Stuart.