|Date||Saturday 31 March 2012|
|Match||Royston Town v AFC Dunstable
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||K. Fehmi(2)|
|Man of Match||Kaan Fehmi|
The visit of AFC Dunstable was always going to be a pivotal game during the month of March when the fixtures were released. For the visitors it was really a case of a 'must win game' to keep any hope of finishing at the top of the table and for The Crows the chance to keep pressure on their nearest rivals Dunstable Town following their mid-week slip up at Tring Athletic that opened up a three point lead in Royston's favour.
A large crowd of 234 witnessed the game on a cold afternoon and whilst Paul Attfield has a large number of impending team suspensions to deal with in the next few weeks he had a near-on fully fit squad to choose from for this game, electing to make just one change from Tuesday night's victory over Hillingdon Borough with Tom Malins starting on the right in preference to Joe Clemo.
Overall this was the proverbial 'game of two conflicting halves', with AFC Dunstable having much the better of the first and The Crows delivering a superb second half performance to turn the game in their favour.
It was frustrating for Royston in the first half as they had much of the ball but too frequently let themselves down with poor quality of deliveries into the box or poor decision making in the final third. This was shown by the fact the visiting keeper had very little to do apart from a few routine things. The closest Royston came just before half time was from Jack Bradshaw who angled a shot goalwards that was fumbled wide of the post and from the corner Luke Robins beat the keeper to the flight of the ball but headed inches over the open goal.
That was as good as it got for The Crows who were largely fortunate only to concede the one first half goal. The pace of the visiting forwards too frequently caught Royston's defence napping but despite getting into a number of good situations Will Norris was not asked to make any saves of note. Shots and headers wide or over could and should have hit the target but it was left to a Royston player to show the visitors how it was done when Jack Bradshaw turned a vicious low cross into the six yard box past his own keeper under pressure from a forward.
Half time came at a good time for the Royston side and was just the tonic required as the same eleven were given the chance to redeem themselves and get control of the game. This they did with a much better free flowing showing with better movement of the ball and more compact defending that saw them gradually control proceedings and create good chances.
It only took ten minutes to get back on level terms when a fine Lewis Endacott cross was met with an equally fine glancing header from Kaan Fehmi that gave the keeper no chance from ten yards.
The football became crisper and the AFC goal game under good pressure. Kaan Fehmi raced into the area receiving a good through ball but was denied by the legs of the keeper and a crisp counter attack saw Fehmi play in Tom Malins but he shot inches wide when the target should have been tested.
Not to be outdone The Crows continued to press and got their reward with 15 minutes remaining when Luke Robins lobbed the ball forward for Fehmi who got behind the AFC defence and lobbed the stranded keeper from 30 yards to give his side the lead.
AFC reacted by throwing bodies forward, knocking longer and more balls into the area but the home defence was up to the task and despite one goalward strike from 16 yards following a free kick that was blocked in the six yard box keeper Will Norris was not called upon to make any saves of note.
For Royston substitute Matt Standen brought a full length diving save from the AFC keeper from a 14 yard half volley but as the clock run its course the hosts looked more and more determined and even seven minutes added time had no bearing on the outcome.
AFC will probably reflect on first half missed opportunities whilst Paul Attfield's side can rightly be proud of what they delivered in the second half to win this so important game. Games against relegation threatened Holmer Green and Hanwell Town follow in the next seven days and are as equally important with just five games remaining.
Team: Norris, Endacott, Bradshaw, McGrandles, Beck, Collins, Edwards, Malins (Young), Fehmi, Lockett (Matt Standen), Robins (Martin Standen). Unused: Clemo, Friend