|Date||Monday 2 January 2017|
|Match||Royston Town v Arlesey Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Frendo, Mentis, Castiglione|
The first game of the new year brought another local club, Arlesey Town, to Garden Walk who are battling down the bottom of the division and who knew they were in for a challenging match – but came with a game plan that saw them through with opportunities in the first half, but buckled to the second half might of the Crows.
Joe Welch returned to the starting line-up after serving his three match ban, however Royston were without Adam Murray and Scott Bridges who both missed today due to their misdemeanours on Boxing Day. Bridges being handed a four match ban for his second sending off of the season. Ryan Ingrey would not feature today due to a slight thigh injury.
The first half could have finished 3-3 if both sides had taken their presented chances as the half was played with a careless openness at times and if it wasn’t for the heroics of Welch in goal for the Crows they could have been chasing a deficit in the second half.
An early half chance for Josh Castiglione was answered almost immediately at the other end with Matt Nolan being given a great chance to open the scoring for the visitors as the ball come across to find him unmarked and his side foot volley seemed goal-bound only for Welch to recover from a seemingly helpless front post position to snaffle the ball before it crossed the line.
Royston swung back and Rod Orlando-Young was making himself dangerous with some good running and firstly he saw a low shot saved by Bart Pedrycz then he pounced on a loose pass back and rounded Pedrycz only to rush his shot when a look up and pass to John Frendo may have been the better option.
More good efforts from the Crows saw Gus Scott-Morriss find the keeper’s fists, then Frendo tried one of his clever lobs that was just caught high on the line.
It was mainly the Crows testing the Arlesey resolve but again Welch was called upon on 29 minutes to keep the visitors out making a good stop look easy.
A free kick delivered on 41 minutes by Danny May found Frendo but he put his snap shot high and over.
The half-finished surprisingly goalless – but not before Welch again made a fine diving save to frustrate Arlesey.
The second half started just as open and Scott-Morriss ran onto a Frendo headed set up but his own header went straight at Pedrycz.
The opening goal came on 52 minutes with a superb through ball by May being picked up by Castiglione and he crossed for Frendo to shoot low and hard. Pedrycz made a really good point blank stop, but the veteran goal getter reacted quickly and swept the deflected ball into the net. 1-0.
Another good stop was called for from Welch as Arlesey tried to counter-punch on 57 minutes and with this stop from the Crows’ keeper’s and his general resistance today finally broke the visitor’s hope and the last 30 minutes was all the home side, mainly camped in the Arlesey half trying to increase their lead.
Orlando-Young was denied in a one on one chance and Ryan Towner put in a fine cross to find no takers just before he was substituted for Kaan Fehmi to come on.
Fehmi’s first contribution was a hopeful half shot straight at the keeper and then man of the match Adam Watkins fed in a good cross again for no-one to latch onto.
Orlando-Young left the pitch on 78 minutes for Martel Powell to have a run out.
The best footballing move of the game culminated in a good cross from Fehmi to Watkins but his shot also went high over the bar.
The second goal for Royston came on 83 minutes as a mini scramble couldn’t bring an Arlesey clearance and the ball fell on the edge of the box for Spyros Mentis to score a rare goal with a well taken accurate finish past the crowd low into the left hand corner. 2-0.
Frendo was swapped for Simon Thomas on 87 minutes.
Royston got a third goal on 92 minutes when Castiglione capped a good match, running on centrally, competing with team-mate Thomas for the forward ball and his speed allowed him to look up and slot by the prone Pedrycz. 3-0.
Game won and the points secured Royston can now look forward to a busy January, where they will come up again tough opposition, including their main rivals for the title, all while dealing with suspensions, looking to ensure that they maximise their In-hand games and consolidate their top of the table status.
Team: Welch, Scott-Morriss, May, Mentis, Brathwaite, Frater, Orlando-Young (Powell), Towner (Fehmi), Frendo (Thomas), Watkins, Castiglione.
Subs not used – Warner-Eley, Bridges Stuart.