|Date||Saturday 25 February 2017|
|Match||Royston Town v AFC Dunstable|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
Another big test for the title chasing Crows was passed today. AFC Dunstable arrived at Garden Walk with a decent run of recent results and boasting two of the division’s top ten goal scorers in Jermaine Hall and BJ Christie and with recent ex-Crow addition, Nathan Frater, they certainly have a potent attack force that can cause any team at this level problems.
Steve Castle and Chris Watters made a few starting line-up changes today. Giving Danny May a start at right-back in favour of utility man Ryan Towner, Stuart Bridges got the nod over Ryan Frater as Adam Murray came back into the side after an injury lay-off. Pace was the name of the game as both Rod Orlando-Young and Josh Castiglione were lined up. Johnny Frendo stepped back in for the absent Matt Nolan and Adam Watkins and Spyros Mentis were charged with the more central roles. It was good to see youngster Gus Scott-Morriss back on the bench following his ankle injury.
The match was preceded with a heartfelt minute silence in honour of big Crows’ supporter Steve Donoghue whom had sadly passed away at the age of 58.
It was a combative first half fragmented mainly by AFC Dunstable players picking up regular bookings for aggressive and sometimes desperate break up play giving the home side quite a few dead-ball chances from various locations around the box – but the Crows could not find their way through to open the scoring.
Garry Malone in the AFC goal made some good saves notably a fine double block in the 14th minute following a low May free-kick that was parried away and the resulting cross back in was met by a Scott Bridges header and Malone tipped over superbly.
With Orlando-Young and Castiglione switching wings the latter was having some success up the right and a good run and cut back on 22 minutes found both Scott Bridges and John Frendo to have half attempts but no clear shots.
With Joe Welch redundant it was still mainly action at the other end and still the away side spoiling and fouling at all junctures to keep their dominating opponents out with the referee rewarding the desperation with regular yellow cards.
It was a feisty first half, goalless – but not without tense incident.
The second half saw more determined pressing from AFC Dunstable and they had their first real chance on Welch’s goal on 53 minutes when Nathan Frater sent across a good ball that Jermaine Hall couldn’t quite convert.
It was nervy times for the Crows as they struggled to find some real quality to regain the impetus in this match and an injury substitution removing Brathwaite for Towner didn’t help the cause. Castle sent on fresh legs in Kaan Fehmi for Watkins and Martel Powell for Orlando-Young in the 74th minute.
It did look like this match would end a goalless stalemate as both teams cancelled each other out but as we have seen from the Crows many times this season the will to win doesn’t end until the final whistle.
The Crows pressed and won a corner on 82 minutes that Danny May went over to take. He delivered a good hanging ball that man of the match Spyros Mentis climbed well to execute a powerful header that thumped sweetly into the back of the net much to the delight of the Royston exuberant players and supporters. 1-0.
The game was won and the final incident of this tight match was a straight red card for Nathan Frater who lashed out violently at May and received his marching orders.
The day was made sweeter with the news that main title rivals Farnborough were beaten 3-0 at home by Marlow and this sees the Crows 11 points clear and still with a game in hand.
Team: Welch, May, Brathwaite (Towner), Bridges Scott, Murray, Bridges Stuart, Orlando-Young (Powell), Watkins (Fehmi), Frendo, Mentis, Castiglione.
Subs not used – Frater, Scott-Morriss.