|Date||Saturday 23 April 2011|
|Match||Royston Town v Hadley|
|Competition||Spartan South Midlands League: Premier Division|
|Royston Scorers||Lockett, Klein|
|Man of Match||David Cain|
A resolute performance from The Crows in stifling hot conditions extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games and with Tring Athletic and Leverstock Green also gaining victories the race for second place will go down to the wire and the final weekend of games.
Hadley set their stall out like so many other teams visiting Garden Walk this season with a very defensive formation with the hope of a quick counter-attacking to affect the scoreline. Royston needed to move the ball with good precision and pace to counter this set up which they did from the off set. Surprisingly it was the more direct ball from defensive positions that the visitors struggled to deal with in the first half and the hosts could have been goals up by the half time interval.
In the opening five minutes both Ryan Lockett and Tom Malins had opportunities hacked off of the line by defenders from lobs. Crosses in the box were also causing problems and Matt Standen met two such crosses at the far post with one close range volley just inches wide and a header just over the bar.
Hadley had the pace on the counter attack to get some joy but the support to the lone forward was often found wanting and any half chances that did materialise never affected Jorden Gibson's goal.
Royston lost Rhys Lawrence to an injury midway through the half and his replacement Ricky Young could have scored twice within two minutes of coming on. A shot from a narrow angle was only just kept out by an unbalanced keeper's hand for a corner and from a free kick the ball landed at Young's feet with his back to goal he hooked just over the crossbar.
The hosts also had two decent penalty appeals before half time with a Malins shot hitting a defender's hand but being deemed unintentional and an even better shout when another cross was about to land on Ross Collin's head but a defender nudged him in the back sending the midfielder sprawling to the ground.
It was most probably frustrating to go in goalless at the interval despite the home dominance and a large feeling the heat would take its toll on everyone and therefore the pace of Royston's game.
Another injury to forward Matt Standen meant another enforced interval change with Will Turl entering the fray. Hadley had a decent early second half chance when David Cain tried to run the ball out for a goal kick but was caught out and their wide player crossed along the six yard line but fortunately Jack Bradshaw just beat the oncoming forward to concede a corner.
As the half gained momentum it was clear that Royston were struggling to make the same inroads in and behind the Hadley defence as in the first half and it would probably take something special to unlock the door and break the deadlock.
That special moment arrived on 58 minute mark when a half cleared cross came out to Ryan Lockett some 25 yards from goal and his bullet volley arrowed high past the keeper and into the net via the crossbar. It was a fantastic strike from Lockett and fitting it should be Royston's 100th league goal of the season.
Hadley made a double substitution and with both sides looking increasingly tired mistakes in possession of the ball occurred more frequently. Jorden Gibson came into his own with one tremendous right handed save down low to his right and stood big to block a one on one effort soon afterwards.
The visitors threw bodies more and more forward but were largely contained after those two clear chances and Royston threatened on the counter themselves. This was shown in the 86th minute when a quick break away from a visiting set play saw Malins beat the offside trap down the right hand channel and a swift advancement from the winger and unselfish square ball allowed a simple finish for Paul Klein from six yards out.
This goal deflated the visitors who had gallantly fought hard to get back into the game after Ryan Lockett's strike but on balance of play Paul Attfield's side fully deserved a two goal win and they will go to Haringey Borough next Saturday with a second placed position very possible
Team: Gibson, Endacott, Bradshaw, McGrandles, Cain, Collins, Edwards, Malins, Matt Standen (Turl), Lockett (Klein), Lawrence (Young), Unused: Apostolos