|Date||Saturday 28 September 2013|
|Match||Royston Town v Histon
|Competition||FA Cup with Budweiser: 2nd Round Qualifying
The Crows welcomed near neighbours, The Stutes of Histon FC, to Garden Walk to take on the young Skrill Conference North team in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the fantastic competition that is The FA Cup. At full strength this tie would still have been a test for Royston Town, but in the middle of a player availability crisis it was always going to be a tall order. Once again Paul Attfield was forced to call upon the services of fringe players, John Bitting and Billy Baird, to play at full backs, moving skipper Adie Cambridge into the back four to cover for Jack Bradshaw, who had picked up an injury in the midweek clash against Aylesbury United, and the patched up Joe De La Salle – following a late fitness test in the warm-up – would make up the home team’s defence.
In the first half the home team more than matched their visitors for effort and endeavour, fashioning a few good chances on the Histon goal and looking well and truly in this cup tie.
In the second minute Ryan Lockett found some space and nodded down a ball for Craig Hammond to hit, just skewing his shot wide. Ten minutes in and more injury misfortune saw John Bitting suffer a worrying knee injury that meant he had to be replaced by midfielder Carl Edwards, with the versatile Ross Collins slotting into the full-back role. This re-jig didn’t stop the Crows pushing on and some muscling down the left wing by Mitch Bryant forced Histon into some desperate defending, conceding fouls and this pressure saw Lockett put in a long shot but this went well wide.
Adie Cambridge delivered a free-kick for Joe De La Salle to head powerfully off target and Hammond jinked left and dipped right putting in a shot that just shaved the post. In a patchy period the break-up play of both teams came to the fore-front with both midfields doing their ugly jobs well – but neither team not really creating anything from their industry.
Two potentially dangerous free kicks for Royston didn’t see any worrying connection from the guys in black and white at these set plays and again a Lockett half shot was easily gathered. Carl Edwards surged forward smelling FA cup glory but saw his shot go straight to keeper Calum Kitscha. And again Bryant’s strength going forward brought a clinical defensive foul and Cambridge this time put in a dead ball shot that hit the side-netting.
In the goalless first half it could be seen that the Crows slightly had the better of this close match, working hard to create half chances and soaking up the few break-aways that Histon fashioned and the home contingent should have been rightly pleased with their first 45 minutes work. The second half, however, was a different matter and Histon’s precocious class, especially that of the superb Lewis Taaffe, meant the home crowd’s not unjust optimism was professionally and terminally quelled.
The pattern of the second period was set early on as a scrappy start by the home side was punished three minutes in with a slight defensive mix-up being all that was needed for the alert Taaffe to strike low and hard under George Lawton to take the lead. With the Royston bench urging their players to “get tighter”, full back Billy Baird put in a driving run up the left wing, shrugging a foul off on the way, only to hear the referee’s whistle pulling play back for the free-kick when he was just about to deliver a cross – poor advantage play from the man in black. The free-kick brought nothing.
Histon began to totally dominate possession, forcing the willing home team into tiring close down play and limiting the Crow’s forward movements and creative side of play to rare breaks and stifled last third action. The returning Kaan Fehmi was sent on at the hour mark only to be present when Histon increased their lead with a decent finish by Michael Built.
Adie Cambridge stopped a certain third making an excellent goal-line block, but another goal was almost inevitable and came when Taaffe put in a power snap-shot that Lawton possibly just saw go above his hands into the net. Royston didn’t roll over and looked for some kind of consolation and a catch from Kitscha saw him bundled over for an obvious foul and then he was called into making a fine tip over save and Fehmi had a reasonable headed chance that went wide.
A fourth goal was added by the visitors by Kaine Sheppard in a stretched last few minutes which gave the score-line a cruel one-sided view, Histon knew they were in a game in the first half, but impressively did their collective jobs in the second half to progress deservedly to the next round.
Team: Lawton, Bitting (Edwards), Baird, Cambridge (c), DeLaSalle, Spencer, Collins, Ingrey, Lockett (Fehmi), Hammond, Bryant (Jackson).
Subs not used – Taylor, Turner, Kilgallon, Binge.