|Date||Tuesday 12 February 2013|
|Match||Royston Town v Blackstones
|Competition||Hinchingbrooke Cup: First Round
|Result||Won 4-3 (aet)
|Royston Scorers||Wilson (pen), Malins, Collins, Standen
|Crows MoM||Tom Malins|
Ruthless Royston Break Brave Blackstones
By Jez Izod
A much changed Royston side battled back to break the hearts of a determined Blackstones side that belied their lower league status after a hard fought and crunching performance that gave the Crows a 4-3 victory after extra time.
The brave souls that ventured to a freezing cold Garden Walk saw they away side attack immediately and their forward players gave the home defence all sorts of problems in the first ten minutes. Twice Harry Reynolds denied the Blackstones number 9 from opening the scoring by tipping one shot over the bar and saving at the feet of the striker.
Jason Beck made his presence known with a crunching tackle on the Blackstones Number 8 when the away midfielder was clear through with just the Royston enforcer to beat.
Blackstones took the lead on 23 minutes after calamitous defending gave the ball straight to a Blackstones attacker and he slotted calmly past Reynolds.
The away side packed their defence hoping to hang on to this lead and Royston resorted to long range shots from Jamie Steele, Jason Beck and Lee Wilson.
five minutes before halftime, the away side rampaged forward and Reynolds had to be alert to save from a forward player.
The best move of the half resulted in the Stones increasing their lead after lovely movement between their dangerous winger and their number 9 who coolly slotted past Reynolds.
This seemed to wake the home side with Beck on a marauding foray into the Blackstones area, he was pushed down and the referee had no alternative but to give a penalty. Lee Wilson calmly placed the spot kick past the away stopper, giving the Crows an undeserved lifeline just before half time.
Whatever manager Paul Attfield said half time, seem to stir Crows as they came out in the second half with “all guns blazing”. Within a minute of the restart, Tommy Malins scampered down the left flank and after good interplay with Beck, his shot was superbly saved by the Blackstones goal keeper.
On 51 minutes, another mission down the left flank by Malins saw his cross headed just over the bar by Taylor Parr.
With the clock hitting 57 minutes a rare sortie by Blackstones saw Beck commit a firm but fair challenge on the away side’s number 2, causing play to be halted due to a nasty looking injury on the young defender. Play was held up for seven minutes whilst first aid was given and a stretcher called.
The Crows were desperately seeking that equalising goal and Jamie Steele’s long range effort seemed destined for the back of the net, somehow the Blackstones keeper pulled off a wonderful save to deny the Royston number 7.
Royston were not to be denied and a minute later a fabulous cross from Standen met the head of Malins and Royston drew level. Exactly with which the second half performance deserved. Rather than spur the home side on for the victory, the Crows seem to switch off and the rest of the half meandered to an end.
In the first period of extra time, Royston challenged the Blackstones goal with efforts from Beck and Parr going just wide.
Blackstones took the lead yet again on 97 minutes when the away sides number 9 was given the freedom of Garden Walk and slammed his shot past Reynolds.
The Crows came back though and after Lewis Endacott was fouled just outside the area, Captain fantastic Ross Collins saw his superb effort nestle in the back of the net.
This knocked the stuffing out of the away side and within three minutes of the restart, the Crows had the lead after a superb run and cross by Malins found Matt Standen making a nuisance of himself in the away area to give Royston the lead.
Royston were happy to hang onto this lead and their superior fitness showed as Blackstones limped out of the cup.
Overall a battling performance against a very brave and resilient Blackstones team. The Crows should be proud of their second half performance, but should really have ended this as a contest within 90 minutes.
Royston Town: Reynolds, Parr, Wilson (Endacott), McGrandles, Robertson, Collins (c), Steele (Edwards), O’Brien (McDevitt), Standen, Beck, Malins
Interview with Crows Manager Paul Attfield
JI: Paul, what are your thoughts on tonight’s performance?
PA: We achieved our objective. It was a disjointed performance in the first half and we just lacked that quality in the final third. Credit to Blackstones, they put pressure on us and really wanted to win. What I get out of it though, was that players coming back from injury like John McGrandles got 120 minutes and some of the reserves and youth players had an opportunity to perform. Overall it was job done.
JI: You made several changes from the team that played at Uxbridge, why was that?
PA: Well promotion is our prime objective and games like this are an opportunity for the fringe players to play and stake their place. The result tonight was immaterial, it was an opportunity to see how others could play. Tommy tonight had an excellent game and originally was not going to start but Ryan Ingrey was not passed fit, so he had to.
JI: You brought Jason Beck into the starting line up and he had an excellent match, he must be in your thoughts for Saturday?
PA: Yes Jason, is knocking on the door, but always has since he came back and McGrandles is also knocking on that door, especially after being out for so long and completing 120 minutes.
JI: So the changes were made with Rugby in mind?
PA: Yes, but also to integrate the reserves and youth into the side, a chance to show different things.
JI: Talking about Rugby, this is a massive match for Royston on Saturday?
PA: No bigger than any other game from now. Every one of the remaining 14 games are as big as each other. Apart from Slough, who need to win every game and that looks very difficult, the pressure is on the other teams to catch us. We don’t have to rely on other results and just need to concentrate on what we do.
JI: But we owe Rugby one after earlier on in the season?
PA: I cannot comment on what happened before as I was not there, but from all accounts they beat us fair and square in the replayed game. You now have two sides in form and this game has come at the right time for us. We have everyone fit and you cannot ask for more than that.