|Date||Saturday 10 January 2015|
|Match||Royston Town v Aylesbury|
|Competition||Evo-Stik League Southern: Division One Central|
With last week’s away match postponed due to the weather it was good to get a game on at Garden Walk to try and keep Royston’s mini winning run going, but their opponents were high flying Aylesbury FC who themselves were in the midst of a run of excellent form with seven consecutive wins under their belt – underlining their second place standing – so today’s league game was always going to be a stern test for the Crows.
In the reverse match back in August the Crows went down by a 1-0 scoreline despite dominating the match and they were certainly looking to put this matter right today.
Steve Castle’s match day squad looked a little thin as suspensions were still being served and other players were given run outs with the Reserve team and unforeseen illness also played a part.
Early skirmishes from the home team were met with blunt and cynical fouls from their visitors that the referee chose leniency when a firm early hand would have settled the game down. The referee also missed two blatant elbows that should have reduced Aylesbury’s pitch player numbers but inconsistently chose to book Spyros Mentis for a committed sliding blocking effort that demonstrated commitment not violence.
The Moles weathered this early Crows pressing and started to push them back with better wide play getting the ball out of the boggy midfield areas whilst the home team’s forward play remained narrow always looking for a killer through ball to create a chance but Aylesbury’s more no nonsense, punting defending was proving effective.
It was half of few clear cut chances with Crow’s keeper Ron Yates not having much to do, and with his opposite number, James Jackson the busier of the two stoppers.
Ryan Ingrey had a half shot that was easily dealt with and on 34 minutes Kaan Fehmi’s trickery in an offside beating run looked as if a shot was forthcoming but not one, but two unfortunate bobbles meant the striker couldn’t get an effort off and in another move Fehmi’s clever lob found Ryan Lockett well placed who intelligently tried to take the pitch factor out by attempting a tough volley but his strike was not full.
Some tight Moles defending caught the Crows offside a couple of times and the half looked as if it would end scoreless – but the dogmatic Lockett and Ingrey thought otherwise. A surging run by Lockett in the swampy 25 yard area led to a short pass to his colleague Ingrey on the edge of the box and with a lot to do the young forward powerfully drove diagonally across the 18 yard central area looking for a shooting opening and under extreme Moles pressure found the strength to put in a low left foot shot that found the bottom right hand corner of Jackson’s goal to take a slender lead at half time.
No interval changes for the home team and no real difference seen on the pitch as this hard fought and well contested game rumbled on belying the challenging surface.
Hobbling skipper Fehmi gave way to Gary Hart ten minutes in and again the referee was seen to struggle with some of the more basic decisions as Aylesbury’s frustration manifested itself in over the top spoiling play but the Crows, to their immense credit, rose above this tactic and continued to more than match their opponents in the midfield encounter while trying to play chance creating football on the front foot.
Aylesbury put on their subs to try and mix it up a bit but the overall game shape remained the same with some impressive defending from the backline of Ryan Wharton, George Powell, Dave Theobald and Chris Watters maintaining their clean sheet and the latter putting in a man of the match display and leaving Yates mainly redundant.
Substitute Reece Dobson – on for the superb Ingrey – had a gilt-edged chance to seal this game as on 87 minutes he picked up the ball well and drove into the penalty area to be brought down for a stone wall penalty that the referee was out of position to call and his inert “assistant” let him down giving him no help in this matter.
The game finished with a reverse of the away fixture score and Castle will be pleased that his committed squad’s reaction to the challenge and ultimate result against good and equally determined opponents meant an important three points was secured in the ongoing play-off chasing race.
Team: Yates, Wharton, Watters, Powell, Theobald, Collins, Bridges Stuart, Mentis, Lockett, Fehmi (Hart), Ingrey (Dobson). Subs not used – Russo, Kilgallon.