|Date||Saturday 1st April 2017|
|Match||Northwood v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Murray, Scott Bridges, o.g., Neilson|
Royston continue to edge inevitably towards the division title, today with a resounding four goal to nil win against a Northwood side, that defended with blunt ferocity, but were toothless up front. The Crows were ebullient today, with no sign of nearly there nerves and got the job done, hopeful that Farnborough would drop points, but always knowing that the title win was always in their own eager hands.
Steve Castle changed personnel and positions again, shifting Ryan Towner back into midfield, pairing Ryan Frater and Adam Murray at centre back and starting Matt Nolan at number 9.
It was Ryan Towner’s exuberance in the first half that was infectious and key to the early momentum that the Crows enjoyed and capitalised on.
It was Towner’s clever through ball that sparked the first goal in the 5th minute. Resurrecting a broken-down corner, he made a precise slotted forward pass that was picked up by Nolan on the left-hand side of the penalty box and the striker put over a low cross that arrived sharply at the back post to find Murray steaming in to connect and force the ball in. 0-1.
The Crows kept up the full pace pressure and their hosts were struggling to compete. Their only option was play stopping fouls and from one such foul Royston scored their second.
A free kick was conceded on 12 minutes centrally about 30 yards out and to those in the know there really was only one taker despite a brief meeting of four Crows’ players all capable of finding the net. Scott Bridges hit a superb, controlled, accurate and unstoppable strike that found the top corner brilliantly. 0-2.
Northwood rallied slightly and Joe Welch was brought into the game making two reasonably easy stops.
In the seventeenth minute Ryan Ingrey was flattened by a ridiculously clumsy punch by the Northwood keeper and was briefly flat out, nose bleeding. He did return to the game bravely, but was swapped for his own protection with Kaan Fehmi replacing him on 25 minutes. This stoppage took the pace out of the game and the twenty minutes left until half time were low-key in comparison.
Half time score: Northwood 0, Royston 2.
Second half and the Crows came back out with their tails back up. Scott Bridges had a great chance to score his second on 53 minutes as he found himself through centrally with only the keeper to beat but put his flicked effort just past the post.
The third goal did come four minutes later as Josh Castiglione conjured some space on the right wing and cut in on the by-line having time to pick a low cross ball pass. Northwood’s Mark Burgess slashed at the ball to clear only to have it bounce off his shins and in for an own goal. 0-3.
Three minutes later, Burgess, obviously frustrated with himself, launched a full on assault on the lively Towner as he out-skilled him wide left and was lucky to have not seen a straight red card for this foolish challenge. The referee did not fulfil his responsibilities on this one.
Royston’s last two substitutions were made on 62 minutes as Matt Nolan and Gus Scott-Morriss were replaced by John Frendo and Scott Neilson with Towner being moved to right back.
Six minutes later and Neilson was celebrating a goal. Some fine inter-linking play across the front line pulled the Northwood defence apart with the ball starting on the right wing with Castiglione who found the ever-available Bridges, who passed to Frendo and it was the front-man’s pass that split the back line and set Neilson up for a calm and accurate left foot finish. Great to watch. 0-4
It could have been five on 83 minutes when a rehearsed corner routine was played deep by Castiglione and Danny May took a touch and hit a fine powerful effort through the crowd that the keeper chose to save bizarrely with a two-fisted punch.
Up the other end Welch made a late save to keep the sheet clean.
So, three more points were secured with a solid away win. This puts the Crows on an unassailable 95 points with a +30 goal difference with four games to play, over Farnborough who have five games to go. Mathematically not done – but nearly there.
Team: Welch, Scott-Morriss (Neilson), May, Bridges Sco, Frater, Murray, Ingrey (Fehmi), Watkins, Nolan (Frendo), Towner, Castiglione.
Subs not used – Brathwaite, Bridges Stu.