|Date||Saturday 12 February 2011|
|Match||Royston Town v Harefield United|
|Competition||Spartan South Midlands League: Premier Division|
|Royston Scorers||Dance (2), Lawrence|
|Man of Match||Bobby Dance|
The Crows got back into league action with an impressive win against lowly Harefield United. Having completed just one competitive game in the previous 25 days there was little sign of any rustiness and despite being without the services of Martin and Matt Standen, Ross Collins, Tom Whitaker, Tom Malins and Lewis Endacott through injury and suspension the victory was fully merited.
Paul Attfield gave full competitve debuts to Rhys Lawrence on the left , the fourth acquisition from Hatfield Town in a matter of 2 months and right back Jack Bradshaw, most recently with St Neots Town and Maidenhead United. Both made impressive appearances with Lawrence bagging his new side's third goal.
Harefield clearly came with a clear plan to soak up pressure and play for a hopeful draw. Defending in vast numbers they packed the midfield allowing little time and space and with the heavy pitch making it tough to move the ball quick it was a game of patience for the Royston team with the first goal always going to prove vital.
That goal never materialised in the first period but not for the lack of effort. Much of the play was spent in the visiting half although chances were few and far between their were a handful of clear chances. Jack Bradshaw had the first early on when he ventured forward from full back and his well drilled effort from 18 yards flashed just wide. Moments later Bobby Dance fired over from 20 yards from a decent position.
The best chance fell to Ricky Young mid way through the half when Ricky Young beat the offside trap and despite a well executed lob over the stranded keeper the ball dropped onto the face of the crossbar with the ball eventually finding Ryan Lockett who fire wide from a good position.
Harefield offered little going forward. A couple of well worked corners created some desperate defensive play but nothing to test goalkeeper Luke Howard was created.
Royston had a really good period just before half time with the keeper saving well from Rhys Lawrence, a couple of crosses from the right flashing across the face of goal and right on half time an excellent cross from Danny Apostolos was weakly headed at the keeper by Bobby Dance who was well positioned but maybe hampered by a defender's leap in front of him.
Right on the half time whistle Ricky Young did well on the right and sent over a superb cross for Lawrence who beat his marker but saw his glancing header go inches wide of the far post with the keeper motionless on his line.
The same tone continued in the second half with a slight formation change. Full Back Jack Bradshaw given more licence to push into a more attacking wing back roll which looked to work well for the home side as the half progressed.
It took a moment of sheer brilliance from Bobby Dance 13 minutes into the second half to break the deadlock. Receiving the ball on the edge of the area he showed great ball control to wrong foot three defenders and send a crashing right foot drive past a well beaten keeper.
Before Harefield could alter their formation they found themselves two down within two minutes. Rhys Lawrence's well weighted chipped ball found the well timed run of Ricky Young, who was crudely tripped from behind for a stonewall penalty. Dance had score three from three in recent games from the spot and their was little doubt he would make it four from four with a powerful low effort to the keeper's left.
Harefield had to show more adventure in their play and looked better for it in the remaining 25 minutes. This created a more open game with both sides creating good chances to score. Another fine team move saw Dance with a good chance to complete a hat rick but his angled drive was blocked by the keeper's legs. Midfielder Carl Edwards also had a great chance from Ricky Young's cross but miskicked wide from an excellent position. At the other end Danny Apostolos superbly volleyed off the line from a well worked move and a couple of nervous defensive moments meant the previously under-worked Luke Howard had to race from his line twice to thwart threatening chances.
Royston though always looked likely to add to their two goals and Rhys Lawrence completed the scoring with 12 minutes remaining when he weaved his way into the area , skilfully evading a couple of challenges before shooting wide of the keeper.
Ashley Grinham then brought a stunning save out of the visiting keeper when his scorching 25 yard drive flew through a crowd of players and was superbly tipped wide by the keeper.
Substitute Lee Bates had a couple of good chances late on to extend the lead further just missing the target with a far post volley and bringing another stunning diving save from the keeper from another ten yard volley, but a satisfactory afternoon for The Crows as they try and reduce the deficit on Tring Athletic and Chalfont St Peter above them
Team: Howard, Bradshaw (Grinham), Apostolos, McGrandles, Cain, Lamacraft, Edwards, Young, Dance, Lockett (Bates), Lawrence
Unused: Gibson, Debnam.