|Date||Saturday 19 December 2015|
|Match||Kings Langley v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Ingrey(2), Mason(2)|
The important top of the table clashes are coming thick and fast for Royston Town and for the second week running the Crows dropped important promotion seeking points.
In this 4th versus 5th encounter Royston may have thought they had the game won and done in the first 20 minutes, but following a dubious straight red card for Crows’ skipper Scott Bridges just before half time, we witnessed a painful capitulation and a seemingly unassailable three goal lead was swept away, which left Steve Castle’s beleaguered men possibly lucky to get a point.
For the first half hour there was only one team in this game, Kings Langley seemed surprisingly fragile for a fourth placed team with goalkeeper and defence nervous and porous to say the least and the Crows capitalised effectively on this reticence scoring three well executed goals and looking in full control over the scrambling Kings.
The scoring was opened after good early away team pressure and Chris Watters, making his first start for some games, re-demonstrated his excellent ball delivery, with a well hit in-swinging corner that swirled in the wind and with home keeper Ant Ladyman seemingly punching towards his own goal, Ryan Ingrey claimed a last touch and the ball hit the back of the net. 0-1.
Six minutes later and Watters again delivered a peach of a precision ball from a high left back position and Rob Mason leapt high and timed a perfect cross keeper header that nestled pleasingly in the inside netting. 0-2.
It was three up and cruising on 19 minutes and the Crows were rampant. A surging left wing run and cut in from Rhys Hoenes left him looking for a pass rather than a shot and following a short set up release he was blatantly tripped and referee Adrian Gillett pointed to the spot. A confident Mason blasted home the penalty. 0-3.
To their credit Kings Langley rallied a little and on the half hour mark had a strong shout for a penalty of their own as Ryan Towner threw himself into a tackle, rather than a more restrained stand up approach, but referee Gillett saw nothing untoward.
The Kings did get one back on 33 minutes against all run of play when still under pressure they conceded a free kick on the edge of their box that Danny May stepped across to deliver. May’s dead ball effort was extremely poor and left his team exposed as the home team broke and broke with purpose. A long ball away and one pass later and Ron Yates was incredibly picking the ball out of the back of his net following a good finish by Dean Hitchcock. 1-3.
Four minutes later and the three goal lead was regained with a really good football move. Hoenes bamboozled his right back marker and sent over a top class left foot cross that Ingrey bravely got on the end of whilst being sandwiched between keeper and centre–half and his strength enabled good connection to head home firmly. 1-4.
With Royston still dominant and probing for more goals the game was changed on 43 minutes as we saw Royston captain Scott Bridges make a committed tackle just inside his own half, that the referee adjudged a foul, despite Bridges seeming to pull back at the last second, and whilst disappointedly surrounded by desperate baying home team players the official made the decision to show Bridges a straight red card.
From the resultant free-kick the shell-shocked and disorganised Crows dealt poorly with the delivery and Lorenzo Ferrari struck the ball in. 2-4.
Half time – 2-4.
This second straight red card of the season would see Bridges suffer a four game ban and add this to the three matches missed earlier and the five match ban served at the start of the season, as a hangover from last campaign’s misdemeanours, sees an exclusion from a total of 12 matches and the records show that the Crows’ form and results have suffered when this superb and influential player is absent from Castle’s team.
This harsh absence was game defining immediately and down to 10 men it was clear Royston would be more than happy with a goalless second half and to cling onto the two goal lead and scamper back to North Hertfordshire with a grateful three points – Kings Langley had other ideas.
No immediate personnel changes from Castle and there was still a considerable Bridges size hole in midfield that Jack Bradshaw worked incredibly hard to fill and Ingrey was asked to drop back to help with.
It was an understandably a scrappy and fragmented half and we saw the Crows still delivering good ball into the box – but the previous overload of attackers was now not there. Inevitably with this defence panicked pressure the Kings got a goal back on 63 minutes as David Hutton poked in. 3-4.
Castle made a like for like swap on 70 minutes at right back seeing George Powell come on for a presumably injured May.
Four minutes later Hutton got his second and equalising goal as the Crows had no real answers and looked in continued disarray and constantly vulnerable.
Castle made two more changes bringing on Gus Scott-Morriss into centre midfield for Ingrey – despite having highly experienced midfielder Erkan Okay on the bench – and then brought on ex-pro frontman Gary Cohen for his Crows debut, taking off the hard-working two goal Mason.
In the last 15 minutes Royston posed no real goal scoring threat to win this game and if anyone was going to take all three points it was the resurgent home team – especially as away team Keeper Ron Yates picked up a visibly painful injury that hampered movement and prevented him kicking clear – the Crows hung on gratefully for just a point, despite having this game all but won early in the first half.
Team: Yates, May (Powell), Brathwaite, DeLaSalle, Watters, Bradshaw, Scott Bridges, Towner, Mason (Cohen), Ingrey (Scott-Morriss), Hoenes.
Subs not used – Okay, Dobson.