|Date||Saturday 7 September 2013|
|Match||Royston Town v Daventry Town
|Competition||Calor League: Central Division One
Daventry Town arrived at Garden Walk understandably full of confidence off of the back of five straight league wins out of five, keeping good clean sheets, knowing this was an important fixture for them, away against possibly one of their promotion rivals.
Royston once again lined up with a different make-shift back line with Lewis Endacott at Centre Half alongside Joe DeLaSalle, Tom Pepper at right back and reserve team player/coach John Bitting being asked to step up to play at left back. Skipper Adie Cambridge got his second start in centre midfield with Ross Collins and the two Ryans offering width – Ingrey on the right, Lockett on the left. Upfront would be the in-form Rob Mason and Craig Hammond.
The game started with the Crows' keeper being called upon to make a sharp low save in the first minute as the Royston defence were caught flat-footed and if it wasn’t for the alert George Lawton they would have found themselves one down very early. The home side’s overall cause wasn’t helped when a seemingly innocuous challenge by Craig Hammond on Daventry keeper Richard Morris left the Royston number 9 prostrate and in pain with the game being stopped for approximately five minutes while Hammond received treatment for a back injury and then saw him substituted with Luke Robins coming on a lot earlier than he could have expected.
It was clear Daventry had come to stamp their size and presence on this game and there followed a series of heavy challenges and crude tackles that the referee chose to let go that displeased the decent sized Garden Walk crowd. Robbie Mason perhaps should have done better finding himself in a good position in front of goal from an Adie Cambridge free-kick but couldn’t quite react to put in a goal-bound effort.
Lawton was once again called into action making a series of good saves as Daventry stepped up the pressure forcing the Royston defence back, winning good possession and corners, twice having good efforts cleared off of the line and also rattling the cross-bar with a fast firm shot. The combative midfield tussle was fascinating to watch and for a ten minute period the Crows huffed and puffed to stay with the more agricultural style of the visitors midfield tactics, with Cambridge and Collins struggling to really engage their direct opponents, but doing just enough to stifle any clear-cut penetration.
The taller and stronger Daventry central pair were winning most free ball and Royston did their best to force their own style on this game but too often came up short, sending long balls forward to the eager Mason who was being well-marked by the
sizeable Liam Dolman. The home side’s best chance of taking a lead in this game came in the 42nd minute with Ross Collins’ cross being met well by Mason only to see his effort go just wide. George Lawton was without doubt having his best game for the Crows and managed to parry another Daventry effort away from the goal.
Paul Attfield must have been delighted that his sometimes under siege side had managed to block the Daventry barrage up to the break and that no-one could question the effort being shown, even if the football being played was of a poor quality. It is notable that the talk of the half-time was how well George Lawton had done to how much pressure the Crows had withstood.
The early period of the second half was more of the same – committed midfield and defensive battles all over the pitch, with identifiable tactics of getting the ball quickly to Robbie Mason to target Daventry skipper Dolman as a possible weak link. A quick free-kick from Cambridge again this time saw an out of sorts Luke Robins just short of connecting.
Another save from Lawton kept his side in it and the continued haranguing of the referee by the visiting players was wearing to say the least. Daventry continued to press and Lawton saw a spectacular power shot rebound from his cross-bar and this intriguing physical match boiled on.
On the hour mark Attfield chose to change things by bringing on Carl Edwards and Robbie Nightingale for Adie Cambridge and Ryan Ingrey – the latter’s replacement being surprising as the young strapping midfielder was contributing and competing well in this hard fought game. This change seemed to unsettle the home side just enough so that the visitors could smell blood.
In the 66th minute a long cross from the right saw the impressive Ashley Robinson soar above Joe De La Salle and thump a solid header by Lawton for the only goal of the game. With Robbie Mason getting ever more frustrated with his thwarted efforts he was first warned by the referee for an non-connecting studs up challenge and three minutes later saw a straight red card for a heavy, but not dangerous challenge that the referee seemed to be unduly influenced by the screams of the Daventry players.
This harsh dismissal changed this tight game and with no real output upfront the home team created nothing and the visitors saw out the victory. It has to be said that the referee had a poor game today for both teams, not really getting to grips with the intensity and tempo of the game and getting some of the bigger decisions basically wrong.
If there was going to be a winner today it was going to be Daventry who showed a real desire to keep their unbeaten run going, but it was a really tough, close competitive match of differing styles. It is telling that the Royston man of the match award went to the keeper, George Lawton and it is hard to recall his opposite number being called upon to make any real save.
Team: Lawton, Pepper, Bitting, Endacott, De La Salle, Cambridge(c) (Nightingale 60), Collins, Ingrey (Edwards 60), Hammond (Robins 2), Mason, Lockett.
Subs not used – Turner, Spencer.
Subs not used – Turner, Spencer.