|Date||Saturday 23 April 2016|
|Match||Royston Town v Egham Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
On a dramatic last day of the normal league season it needed a win for either Royston Town or Egham Town and a drop of points by Kings Langley to claim the title for today’s head to head opponents – neither of these events materialised and congratulations must go to Kings Langley, securing their third promotion in as many seasons, leaving both the Crows and Sarnies to battle it out in the play-offs to join them.
The stage was set for drama and nerves to hold sway and were expected to play their part, but both teams channelled this anxiety into a well contested match of concentrated defending and limited direct goal chances and the buoyant crowd of 336 went home suitably entertained, having witnessed an honest effort in a potentially high reward vs loss match, between two committed clubs.
The game was opened by Royston dominating the play in the first few minutes culminating on ten minutes in a free-kick being delivered and Daniel Brathwaite attempting a close in high volley only to see Egham keeper, Jamie Norris, pull off a spectacular tip over save, followed up quickly by a 4 yard driving run and post shaving shot be Erkan Okay.
Okay left the pitch on 18 minutes with a painful calf injury and Ryan Towner had an earlier run out than expected.
Egham had a better period of play coming more into the game offensively and snuffing out the Crows early dominance with more combative midfield play and ball retention.
Royston had a big handball in the penalty area shout on 39 minutes that was waved away by the referee and with the Crows exerting good pressure and from a well delivered corner Ryan Ingrey had a header cleared off of the line.
The well fought and competitive half was brought to an end by a swift spin and shot just wide of the target by Egham’s Chris Moore. Half Time 0-0.
The second 45 minutes would prove to be extremely eventful with again two ambitious teams swapping controlled blows, whilst still retaining reasonably steadfast defence.
Rhys Hoenes started the half with a pacey run through but there was no shot forthcoming and With Ingrey still bustling with energy Egham conceded a number of free kicks around their box.
Royston were reduced to 10 men on 55 minutes when Ryan Frater was adjudged to have used undue force to halt his opponent and saw a straight red card. Ryan Towner, himself on as a substitute, was sacrificed for a central defence replacement for Frater and Liam McDevitt came on alongside the hard working Brathwaite.
Egham turned the screw in this slight re-arrangement and scored the opening goal of the game on 60 minutes as the lively Bajram Pashaj bustled through the Crows defence and planted a firmly struck shot past Ron Yates. 0-1.
Full credit to the smarting Crows who, despite being a man and goal down, exerted good forward pressure to get back in this important game and with Egham persistently fouling to stop the home teams progress the reaction to the position was positive.
Castle made his last change taking off full back Chris Watters and putting on young attacker Josh Castiglione and this impetus of nothing to lose forward overload seemed to work as on 70 minutes impressive persistence by man of the match Brathwaite on the left hand side produced a chest high hooked cross and Simon Thomas arrived perfectly to head in the equaliser. 1-1.
Royston looked the more likely to score again with their tails up but the next forward move, a low ball forward with Hoenes on his starting blocks, Sarnies’ Kurtney Brooks stuck out an illegal hand to stop the through pass and received a second yellow card and subsequent red card for this action to even out the pitch based personnel.
Skipper Scott Bridges had a good chance to nick the win on 75 minutes as Hoenes’ tricky running set Bridges up for the shot but his effort went agonisingly wide.
It was an open last period of play indicative of both teams’ will to win this important game but no further score was forthcoming leaving Kings Langley to claim the title and Royston Town to equal last season’s table position and claim the second place and win the home advantage for potentially both the semi-final and hopefully the final of this promotion seeking season.
Royston Town FC will play AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the play-off semi-final at home on Tuesday 26th April – kick off 7.45pm.
Team: Yates, May, Watters (Castiglione), Frater, Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Okay (Towner)(McDevitt), Bridges Stuart, Ingrey, Thomas, Hoenes.
Subs not used – Hull, Powell.