|Date||Tuesday 11 August 2015|
|Match||Royston Town v Barton Rovers|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
After the disappointing defeat away at Uxbridge the Crows were hoping to kick start their season in their first home game but faced a tricky opener against the team that eliminated them in last season’s play-off game. Barton had suffered a traumatic closed season losing their Manager and several players to Bedford Town but still retained the nucleus of the side that ended our promotion hopes and were always going to be a testing challenge.
The game started at a frantic pace and the Crows struggled to get a foothold in the game with the movement of the Barton forwards causing us difficulty. The first attempt at goal by either side came in the 10th minute when a fierce shot by Lucas Perry was parried away by Yates in the Royston goal but just moments later the keeper was picking the ball from the net when a tame speculative shot from distance somehow squirmed underneath Yates into the Royston net.
The early goal seemed to spread panic into the Royston side and they were fortunate not to go further behind in the 19th minute when firstly a well struck shot from Joe Reynolds was superbly turned away by Yates and then from the resulting corner the ball bounced on the top of the bar to safety.
Gradually the Crows gathered their composure and started to create openings, firstly a Bridges free kick was flicked on to Luke Robins but his goal bound shot hit a Barton defender, then moments later a sweet delivery from Gus Scott-Morriss was met by Stuart Bridges but his header was well saved by Forster in the Barton goal. Unfortunately the momentum did not continue and the remainder of the half petered out.
Half Time Royston 0 Barton 1
The second half started with a double substitution but surprisingly it was the winning side that made the changes with Barton adding more steel to protect their slender lead. The changes almost paid immediate dividends when the Royston defence was caught napping and Yates ventured out of his area to apparently take down the Barton striker and earn himself a yellow card.
Substitute Caglar lined up the free kick but whilst his shot cleared the wall it also flew wide of the goal much to the relief of the home side.
As the home side gradually wrestled control of the game, the Barton game plan to nullify Rhys Hoenes became more evident and a flurry of body checks and fouls on the tricky winger saw the Barton card count start to mount. Whilst Royston prodded and poked in search of the elusive equaliser their movement was often sideways or backwards without any forward penetration and it was not until the 65th minute when a double substitution sparked the Crows into life. Just four minutes later Hoenes picked up the ball on the halfway line and surged a full 30 yards into the opposition box only to be upended by Barton defender Andrews to concede a penalty which Watters dispatched with ease.
Just moments later as the home crowd beckoned for a winner, the Crows very nearly committed hara-kiri when a clumsy challenge on the edge of the Royston box left a Barton striker seated inside the box appealing for a penalty, fortunately for the home side the foul was deemed to be outside the area and the sigh of relief was clearly evident.
The Crows rallied again and pressed in search of the winner and whilst Barton were content to defend deep they also looked threatening on the break and kept the Royston defence marshalled by the outstanding Bradshaw on their toes.
Eventually the opportunity for a winner came and it came not once but twice and almost in identical manner. In the 90th minute Ryan Ingrey found himself wide left near the corner flag but delivered a peach of a cross onto the head of Rob Mason who cushioned his header towards Josh Castiglione who volleyed wide of the upright. Moments later Ingrey once again delivered a perfect cross this time to Stuart Bridges but his guided header floated up and over.
Team: Team: Yates, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite, Stu Bridges, McDevitt (c), Bradshaw, Hoenes, Towner (Mason), Ingrey, Watters, Robins (Castiglione) Subs not used Kilgallon, Powell, Ryan