|Date||Saturday 22 February 2014|
|Match||Kettering Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Calor League: Central Division One|
Away to the in-form and well supported Kettering Town was always going to be a tough match and whilst Royston Town came into this match with their own decent league form, the absence of core squad players and adequate cover would prove pivotal and extremely disappointing as the Crows ended up being sent home off the back of another high score trouncing.
It does seem that if the Crows are going to lose away to fellow promotion chasers they lose big as sobering high score defeats against Barton, Rugby and Kettering have demonstrated.
Royston lined up without Lewis Endacott and Kaan Fehmi (first game of four game suspensions) and Jack Bradshaw and Sam Spencer who were both ill. These absences saw Craig Hammond line up as centre-half alongside the soon to be suspended Joe De La Salle, in a 4-5-1 or possibly 4-1-4-1 formation with new Dad Rob Mason up-front on his own no doubt planning some kind of thumb-sucking or cradle motion goal celebration – unfortunately we were not going to see this today.
The first 25 minutes were well contested if scrappy and whilst not full of goal-mouth incidents a neutral would say that it was an even game. This scenario changed on 28 minutes when an innocuous forward ball was parried by Hammond with his left arm in the box and Andy Gooding struck home the spot-kick.
Three minutes later and De La Salle collided with Robbie Nightingale, both missing the clearance, and whilst they debated the matter, two crisp passes later and Elliot Sandy thumped home to punish them and their team. It was Sandy who set up the third and Royston were in dis-array – a pass to Gooding on the right and he was past his marker too easily for a low cross to Josh Moreman to have three attempts in a messy goal-mouth scramble that saw Royston have chances to clear but Moreman’s persistence made it three.
Steve Castle must have been willing half-time to arrive so he could help his team re-group but a minute before the break a deep cross looked to be going long but an athletic right foot reach from Chris Logan deflected the ball across the goal and in off the opposite post.
The home crowd were understandably ecstatic. The heavily out-numbered away support less so.
Steve Castle chose to keep everything the same for the first segment of the second half and whilst Kettering had an early chance that hit the post the bedraggled Crows worked hard to restore some kind of pride. Substitutions were made in the 57th minute seeing Ryan Ingrey replaced by Spyros Mentis and Reece Dobson by Adie Cambridge, who went into centre-back position – allowing Hammond, who, despite the hand-ball, had answered his team’s call to fill in at centre-half admirably – to push up-front.
Still the visitors did not create any real chances on goal and sometimes were frustratingly hesitant to pull the trigger when well-placed. The coup de grace came when Kettering got their fifth in the 68th minute and a right wing move led to James Jepson to fire in.
A final substitution saw Carl Edwards replace Taylor Parr but by now this match was done. The home side continued to push forward but no more goals were forth-coming.
The lack of certain players may be a contributing reason for this defeat but it should not be an excuse. Over the course of the full match Royston were made to look lacking in many areas, defensively they looked over-awed and nervous and whilst the midfield toiled all game they were no match for their opposite numbers and lone striker Mason was well marshalled by the no-nonsense Henry Eze.
This intriguing up and down season continues.
Team: Thompson, Parr (Edwards), Dhillon, Hammond, De La Salle, Nightingale, Collins, Ingrey (Mentis), Dobson (Cambridge), Mason, Robins. Subs not used – Baird.