|Date||Saturday 7 April 2012|
|Match||Royston Town v Hanwell Town
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||Edwards, Robins|
|Man of Match||Carl Edwards|
For the third game in a row Royston were victorious by a 2-1 scoreline. In some ways this game followed a similar pattern to the win at Holmer Green on Tuesday, playing relegation threatened opposition, leading by two goals at half time, conceding a soft goal and holding on nervously by the referee's full time whistle. This hardly matters as the final result was the most important statistic and with nearest rivals Dunstable Town being held to a goalless draw at Hadley Paul Attfield's side stretched their lead in the table to five points with just three games remaining.
It is viable that The Crows could win the league at Oxhey Jets next Saturday should Dunstable drop points but it may also go down to the very last game of the season with other tough fixtures against Aylesbury United and Haringey Borough to follow. Focus and desire need to be maintained with a few more strides of a long marathon season to go.
This was never going to be an easy fixture. Hanwell Town, under recent management change, had in mid-week climbed two places from the bottom after a good run of just three defeats in nine games and Royston went into this game forced into making many changes.
Keeper Will Norris, Lewis Endacott and Martin Standen started suspensions with Ricky Young ill. Kaan Fehmi played but was not fully fit and Luke Robins also started despite having been ill most of the latter part of the week. Reserve keeper Damian Williamson made his first start of the season at the critical stage and did admirably well for the side.
Both sides had the need for maximum points and it was largely a cautious game without too many scoring opportunities. The Crows eased their way into the game with Matt Standen having two good early chances. First he headed inches wide from a good Fehmi cross and when he beat the offside trap from a good lofted ball his first touch took him away from goal allowing a defender to recover the situation for a corner.
Hanwell had some pacey forwards and it was clear to see why they could have beaten Leverstock Green by a 4-3 margin in midweek. A couple of left wing crosses flashed across the six yard box with no attacking forward quick enough to react but overall Royston defended well.
The Crows gradually built up a head of steam and took a 29th minute lead when Hanwell were slow to clear a free kick and Carl Edwards curled a fine effort from 25 yards past the full length keeper's dive and into the top corner.
The lead was doubled ten minutes later when Luke Robins picked up a ball on half way, ran forwards and struck a 30 yard effort goalwards that took a slight deflection off a challenging foot and flew across the keeper and into the net off the post.
Hanwell responded with their best chance of the half straight with kick off when Jason Beck misjudged a long ball letting in the forward with Damian Williamson making a superb block from the resultant fierce goalbound shot.
The second half started with Royston still on top and Ryan Lockett could have extended the lead when he broke into the area but his low shot towards the near post was superbly saved one handed by the keeper for a corner. Paul Attfield had two enforced changes to make with Fehmi's thigh injury from mid-week returning to a bad extent and Luke Robins also withdrawn. The Crows began to get edgy on the ball and with Hanwell going for broke and throwing their substitutions into attacking positions they started to dominate territorially without creating any clear chances. The Crows continued to defend in numbers leaving Ryan Redford as a lone striker and they were undone with twenty minutes remaining from a set play.
A simple corner was met ten yards from goal with a header downwards that was converted by another unmarked Hanwell player six yard out who poked the ball high into the net.
The visitors continued to press but the home side's determination was clearly evident and Hanwell only had one more clear chance in the final minute but a great chance it was when a free shot from 20 yards went a couple of inches wide of Williamson's left hand post.
An added period of seven minutes brought no further scoring opportunities with another job well done.
Team: Williamson, Clemo, Bradshaw, McGrandles, Beck, Collins, Edwards, Lockett, Fehmi (Malins), Matt Standen, Robins (Redford) – Unused: Friend, Grinham