|Date||Saturday 17 March 2012|
|Match||Royston Town v Hadley
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||Robins (2), Matt Standen|
|Man of Match||Martin Standen
The Crows did well to maintain their push for promotion with a deserved win against mid-table Hadley despite playing the second half with ten players after the sending off of goalkeeper Will Norris in the 48th minute for retaliation. The gloves were donned by skipper Ross Collins, but his team mates did well thereafter and still looked the better side despite being a man down for the best part of the half.
Royston manager Paul Attfield is currently having to use the full depth of his squad. Being without players of the calibre of the injured Ryan Lockett, Rhys Lawrence, Tom Malins and John McGrandles and the suspended Jason Beck would cripple many a side in the division but The Crows were assured in their first half work without ever reaching their greatest heights.
Hadley came with great determination with a recent management change and new-look younger side. They were technically good and passed the ball well but lacked a cutting edge in the final third and on the day created too little to really affect the outcome of the game.
The Crows were largely happy to let their opposition see plenty of the ball and to pick them off on the counter attack. This worked to a degree in that period but the hosts also lacked a cutting edge around the penalty area but crucially the chances that they did create ended up on target or in the goal.
One fine early counter attack created an opening for Matt Standen whose 16 yard angled strike was superbly saved low down by the keeper. The Crows weren't to be deterred and took a 14th minute lead. Joe Clemo made an excellent right fullback run and after getting to the goal line crossed beyond the far post where Luke Robins volleyed in low past the keeper from ten yards. Three minutes later and the lead was doubled. Good movement from a corner together with an equally good Ross Collins delivery found the head of the unmarked Robins who headed into the top corner from eight yards.
In terms of chances created, that was as good as it got from The Crows as they couldn't find the quality needed to create clear chances although both full backs Joe Clemo and Ashley Grinham both looked dangerous when going forward. It was Hadley who had the final chance of the half when a chipped ball forward found the well-timed of run of Dan Petrucci who lobbed Will Norris but the ball went the wrong side of the upright.
With a comfortable cushion at half time Royston made a truly awful opening to the second period. Straight from kick off Petrucci ran straight at goal past some withering tackles and was brought down by Collins 25 yard out. Whilst the initial kick was charged down, the referee ordered a retake from which Petrucci found a hole in the wall giving Norris no chance to his right.
Moments later the situation was worsened when Norris reacted to a Hadley player kicking the ball at him after a stoppage by throwing the ball back at his counterpart. Royston's young stopper has been immensely mature in his short time at the club but this was a moment of petulance that was not needed. Whilst the Hadley player was probably a bit fortunate only to see yellow for his part in the incident a quick home reshuffle was needed. Skipper Ross Collins donned the gloves, with Paul Attfield replacing Luke Robins with Ricky Young as The Crows changed to a 4-3-2 formation.
Apart from one nervy moment when Collins kicked a shot over his crossbar rather than use his hands he performed admirably and was superbly protected by a resolute defence with Hadley unable to muster another clear opening on goal. The visitors probably would have been better to try to get the ball in the box as they had some significantly taller players but they always trusted their passing ability which too often broke down well outside the penalty area.
The officials had a messy 15 minute period with constant stopping of the game and some baffling cautions for both teams when there was hardly any other tackle or incident that warranted such a punishment.
Fortunately the game re-settled and as the half wore on Royston always looked the more likely to score. Playing livewires Matt Standen and Ricky Young up front caused Hadley progressive problems as The Crows sought a decisive third goal.
Young hit a scorching angled 20 yard drive against the face of the post and moments later his right wing cross struck the face of the crossbar and rebounded back into play. Not to be outdone, it was Matt Standen that won the game outright from a tremendous team move. Good work by Young, Kaan Fehmi and Carl Edwards set up the chance for Standen who thundered a shot from the edge of the box past the motionless keeper and in off the crossbar,
This was with eight minutes remaining and completely knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and claimed another vital three points for Royston.
Team: Norris, Clemo, Grinham, Endacott (Apostolos), Bradshaw, Martin Standen Edwards, Collins, K. Fehmi (Redford), Matt Standen, Robins (Young)