|Date||Saturday 11 April 2015|
|Match||Leighton Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evo-Stik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||McDevitt, Hart(2), Ingrey|
In form Royston Town secured a coveted promotion play-off place – final league positions still to be determined – with a convincing away victory against Leighton Town, despite being reduced to ten men in the first half, and their astonishing end of season run maintains momentum.
The sun was out at Bell Close and early skirmishes saw half chances at both ends with both goalkeepers being called into action. Zak Oualah made a steady save from a free-kick and Ronny Yates was confident and safe in a one on one encounter in the 5th minute.
The Crows’ dead ball delivery and conversion would prove clinical today as they applied penetrative pressure every time they won a free-kick or corner. Determined, but sometimes untidy, front play from Gary Hart, Fejiri Okenabirhie and Ryan Ingrey prodded and probed, but no clear cut real open chances fell to the lively and complimentary trio.
A Royston free-kick on 22 minutes provided the opening goal and Stuart Bridges supplied the ball in that central defender Liam McDevitt rose highest to cleanly connect and power a fine header full and central into the net. The Crows maintained the pressure and looked likeliest to add to the lead but on 34 minutes a rare foray on the break from the Leighton forwards saw defender Chris Watters adjudged to have committed a last man foul whereupon a penalty kick was awarded and Royston’s influential left back saw a straight red card.
Leighton’s Danny Watson despatched the spot kick to equal the scores and despite still not conceding a goal from open play in nine consecutive games, Royston looked slightly shell shocked that their defences had been breached. Steve Castle did not ring any immediate personnel changes, choosing to shift players to cover, but for Royston the half time whistle was not an unwelcome sound.
In the recent excellent string of wins it has been Royston that have been particularly strong in the first half and have consolidated any lead or dominance in the second period – but today it was the reverse. The absolute superb ten men of Royston blasted away any real opposition in the second 45 minutes and scored three more goals to underline their superiority.
This game was won following a brutal first 11 minutes of second half class and determination.
Royston regained the lead five minutes in with another class set piece delivery from the accurate Stuart Bridges and Hart – being brilliantly cheered on by a few travelling Eastbourne supporters – directed a clever header away from Oualah into the bottom corner of the Leighton goal. Two minutes later man of the match Hart scored the goal of the game powering in a thunderbolt shot from the edge of the box that glanced down off of the bar and in before anyone could even move to block – great strike.
Ingrey capped another workmanlike performance by getting on the score-sheet. Jack Bradshaw had replaced Stuart Bridges, so able brother Scott took responsibility for a free-kick delivery and the elusive Ingrey powered a header goal-ward with Oualah doing well to half stop but the ball crept over the line to make the score 4-1 to the visitors.
McDevitt left the field to be replaced by Dave Theobald and Okenabirhie made way for Kaan Fehmi.
Yates was called upon in the 80th minute this time doing enough in a one on one that he eventually snaffled away from Aaron Morgan.
The Crows' fitness and commitment to the end showed and whilst not adding to the already decisive score they weathered the rare Leighton surges easily and in the last few minutes could have added three more goals with good efforts from Fehmi, Hart and Ingrey.
With two games to go and a promotion play-off position mathematically secured Royston Town look set to finish in their highest ever league position, but Castle will no doubt continue to remind his band of quality players that their current 2nd position commands home pitch advantage and the Crows’ recent home form has been superb.
Team: Yates, Wharton, Watters, Powell, McDevitt (Theobald), Bridges Scott, Bridges Stuart (Bradshaw), Mentis, Hart, Okenabirhie (Fehmi), Ingrey.
Subs not used – Nightingale, Scott-Morriss.