|Date||Saturday 16 August 2014|
|Match||Northwood v Royston Town|
|Competition||Southern League: Central Division One|
|Royston Scorers||Lockett, Watters|
This was a high tempo, entertaining and competitive – sometimes loose – match that Royston edged in the first half, but lost their way in the second period allowing a plucky Northwood team to get a deserved goal back and the hosts looked like possibly getting a winner, only for the determined Crows to take all three points with a last gasp goal in the 95th minute.
The game opened at high pace with chances at both ends and with Royston the slightly slower out of the blocks and the home team put an early snap-shot wide and up the other end, three minutes in, striker Ryan Lockett was unfortunate to receive an early yellow card for simulation, despite receiving an obvious push that the over familiar referee missed.
A minute later fellow frontman Gary Hart had a one on one with the home keeper with Berkley Laurencin getting the faintest touch to deflect the shot onto the post and the Woods broke away swiftly leading to chasing defending and Paul Bastock, in the Crow’s goal, making a world class point blank stop to thwart the home side taking an early lead.
Royston settled a bit and Northwood were forced to make some stopping fouls and as the Crows started to get the upper hand and shots came in from Kaan Fehmi and Chris Watters that were dealt with relatively easily by the home side.
On twenty minutes Bastock again did really well from a Northwood free-kick that was inadvertently headed goal-ward by the Crows’ skipper Jack Bradshaw and up the sharp end a superbly delivered Fehmi free-kick just eluded Scott Bridges and Laurencin came to his teams rescue again.
Ryan Lockett and Gary Hart were linking well upfront and the impressive Lockett drove forward and unleashed a low drive that was again solidly saved. This close game needed something special to open it up and this came on 36 minutes with Hart executing a sharp class turn and lay off to Lockett who still had a bit to do by side stepping the keeper and finishing with an accurate low shot inside the near post.
A great chance for the visitors to extend their lead fell to Fehmi after some good work by Watters on the left and Fehmi’s effort was spooned over the bar from two yards but it could be seen that Royston’s more direct approach seemed to be having some effect as Northwood dug deep and there was no further score before half-time.
No changes for the Crows at half time and early second period sparring led to an over-heated exchange between Fehmi and the Woods’ skipper Mark Burgess and Steve Castle chose to remove Fehmi from the situation before it escalated, replacing him on the right wing with the exuberant Ryan Ingrey on 55 minutes. The Crows were keeping ball possession better and remaining more patient and a high cross in saw Ingrey crudely sandwiched by both keeper and defender only for him to receive an inexplicable yellow card from a distant referee.
Some Royston players seemed fatigued as they entered the last twenty minutes of this close contest and their previous possession dominance deserted them and some poor passing and lack of space finding options saw the willing hosts start to gain some momentum.
Centre-back Lewis Endacott was substituted on seventy minutes with a tight hamstring with Spyros Mentis stepping in and this personnel change was enough for the hosts to cause enough confusion to create a good chance that home team substitute Nana Asamoah struck low to Bastock’s left to punish the Crows for their poor period of play and temporary disarray.
It was now all Northwood as the Royston centre midfield went missing and a poor period of non-cohesion led to some half-chances for the home side to take all three points and they could definitely smell blood. Castle used his last substitution with ten minutes to go to again change the back line replacing Nick Azzopardi with Ross Collins at right back and with the game noticeably bypassing a weary Royston midfield the Crows still put together chances of their own as both sides demonstrated they were not satisfied with one point.
Lockett’s work rate and effort throughout this match was exemplary and veteran Bastock’s icy alertness and constant vocal input to keep his side focussed was evident, pulling off another great stop whilst simultaneously lambasting his team-mates as the Royston defence scrambled. Ingrey’s energy on the right was telling whilst on the other flank Watters was visibly flagging. Scott Bridges’ impressive weaving run and one-two with Hart was exciting but no shot came and a Watters spurt and cross fell behind Ingrey and Lockett when they were both dangerously placed.
On 90 minutes the embattled Hart took a heavy knock as Royston won a corner and received treatment and the resulting corner saw a good header from Ingrey go agonisingly wide. However, the resilient Crows were not done in this game and in a frantic last few minutes Bastock stood tall again and the ball was fed forward quickly. It found another bit of high quality hold up play from a hobbled Hart to set up war weary, lung bursting, leg heavy, Chris Watters for a superb low left foot accurate finish to take all three important points in this well contested and highly exciting match.
Team: Bastock, Azzopardi (Collins), Bradshaw, Endacott (Mentis), Wharton, Bridges Scott, Bridges Stuart, Fehmi (Ingrey), Lockett, Hart, Watters. Subs not used – Edwards, Nightingale.