|Date||Saturday 6 February 2016|
|Match||Northwood v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Scott Bridges, Thomas, Bradshaw, Ingrey|
This was a big game for Royston Town and was duly given the respect and concentrated approach it warranted. Northwood, achieving recent good results, were top of the home form table for the last six games and the Crows were similarly top of the away form for the last six games – so something had got to give.
It was the Crows that were rampant in the first half and suitably dogged in the second that secured an emphatic 0-4 away win that under-lined the renewed confidence and realistic belief in this recently strengthened Royston squad.
We saw two changes to the starting line-up with skipper Scott Bridges coming straight back in after serving his most recent suspension and reserve team goalkeeper Mayson Tewkesbury deputising for Ron Yates, who was unavailable due to family commitments.
On a windy day, with the gusts coming across the pitch, it was the visitors who declared their intentions to attack early and Jack Bradshaw put in an early turn and on target shot that was saved by home stopper Berkley Laurencin, but it was as early as the seventh minute when the Crows drew first blood. Bridges announced his return by finishing some good combination work from Chris Watters, Erkan Okay and Bradshaw and the exuberant Bridges executed a neat spin and central shot that pinged into the Northwood net leaving Laurencin flat footed. 0-1.
The home side responded reasonably well but we saw a short match stoppage as a head clash between Bradshaw and Louis Stead was dealt with seeing Bradshaw bandaged and back on speedily.
With twenty minutes gone, an important three minutes ensued with Tewkesbury over stretching for a crossed ball and clearly fouling a Northwood jumper to concede a penalty. The stand in keeper redeemed his actions with a good diving, but comfortable, spot kick save and from his quick thinking delivery found winger Rhys Hoenes with an accurate and intelligent kick out and Hoenes ran on and put in a probing low cross that Simon Thomas dipped to direct a neat glancing header into the corner of the goal. 0-2.
With the home side reeling it was from a Royston short corner on 28 minutes that Hoenes drew a foul in the box and Bradshaw stepped up again to power home the resultant penalty kick. 0-3.
The Crows had another strong penalty shout waved away on 30 minutes as Bridges was shoved as he was about to shoot and two minutes later Bradshaw unleashed a curling effort that went just wide.
Steve Castle dealt with a forced substitution on 41 minutes as Erkan Okay, struggling with a calf injury, was replaced by Ryan Towner.
Half Time 0-3 to the visitors.
The second half was a scrappier affair as the Crows always looked to extend their lead but found more resistance with earlier breakdown of play by Northwood and their keeper Laurencin making two really good saves.
On 57 minutes, Bradshaw, earning himself another man of the match award with his impressive work rate and knack of being in attacking support positions at the right time, brought a good stop with a long accurate shot that was curling in but Laurencin made a good save to palm wide.
Thomas was replaced just past the hour mark by Reece Dobson after again contributing well and getting more important minutes to aid his match fitness.
With the away team defenders busier we saw committed work from all four defenders with Danny May standing out – but with the whole Royston side determined to keep a clean sheet.
The icing was put on the cake on 80 minutes with a clearance from the back being flicked on cleverly by Hoenes with his head and the still energetic Ryan Ingrey collecting and out pacing his marker placing a calm and accurate finish past the sprawling keeper. 0-4.
Hoenes was immediately replaced by Tommy Hull.
Northwood tested Tewkesbury again near the end but he did well and his decent stop was gratefully cleared.
This was an excellent team performance by the on the road Crows and sees them cement 4th place with the success hungry squad well positioned to build on results like this one in the coming weeks.
Team: Tewkesbury, May, Watters, McDevitt, Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Okay (Towner), Bradshaw, Thomas (Dobson), Ingrey, Hoenes (Hull).
Subs not used – Scott-Morriss