|Date||Saturday 11 February 2017|
|Match||Royston Town v Petersfield Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Nolan(4), Scott Bridges, Orlando-Young|
Again after another two-week weather lay off the onus was again on Royston Town to remain focussed and not allow the enforced break to interfere with the promotion drive and positive momentum. It helped that today’s opponents were Petersfield Town, who are currently sitting rock bottom of the division, with no real recent form and what looked like a personnel shortage and numerous player changes for today’s tough game.
Steve Castle chose to stick to an unchanged starting line-up – handing the number 9 shirt again to Matt Nolan who has done exactly what has been asked of him during John Frendo’s recent hiatus and with today’s individual four goal haul it does look like he has taken a liking to the starting role in this title challenging team.
It has to be said that despite having a penalty awarded (and saved) in the second half Petersfield barely troubled Joe Welch and his well-organised defence dealt easily with any rare visitor’s attacks.
Royston started with offensive purpose and were continuously testing Lewis Watch in the Petersfield goal with his defenders having to work exceptionally hard to contain the work rate of the Crows’ front line. Early efforts from Matt Nolan, Martel Powell and Scott Bridges certainly under-lined the fact that Watch would be busy today.
The opening goal came on 24 minutes as Nolan picked up a central ball and did enough to wrong-foot and spin his marker to buy himself a yard and whilst not the swiftest of the Crows’ strikers on show had enough to maintain the gap and finish low and composed past the out-coming Watch. 1-0.
Royston eagerness was visible and sometimes their lack of ultimate patience was their undoing but good efforts by Josh Castiglione and again by Nolan kept up the dominance of play – even if the goal tally wasn’t increasing yet.
This already difficult game got a lot harder for the visitor’s when on 39 minutes Harry Giles was shown what looked like a harsh straight red card for a definite edge of box foul on the in-flight Castiglione -but was it warranting of a dismissal? – the referee obviously thought so much to the chagrin of the Petersfield’s bench.
Nolan got his and Royston’s second on the 45-minute mark as Watch did really well tipping a Scott Bridges’ drive onto the bar only for it to bounce back for the well placed striker to dip and head in firmly. 2-0.
The Crows’ dominance of the first half should possibly have seen more goals converted but the tempo and style of play had the home crowd pleased with what they were watching.
A half time swap saw Stuart Bridges depart for Ryan Frater to slot in a centre half.
Castiglione set up Bridges on 48 minutes for a shot but this time straight at the keeper – but a minute later Nolan was celebrating his first hat-trick for the club with a superb bit of composure picking up the ball just inside the box – spotting the keeper slightly stranded – and executed a perfect hooked lob into the far corner. 3-0.
Scott Bridges got in on the scoring act on 55 minutes – as the home team pressure became a parade with the ball being blocked and cleared by the still fighting visitors, and after being thwarted by such a blockage he picked up a stray rebound and slotted home left footed into the bottom corner. 4-0.
Four minutes later and visibly goal hungry and pumped up sub Rod Orlando-Young – on for Castiglione – made it five as he drove powerfully in from the left wing and pelted a powerful drive that just went in at the near post. 5-0.
The scoring was completed by Nolan on 62 minutes following some good work by surging full back Ryan Towner as his shot came back and pin-balled to Nolan who made sure at the second better attempt. 6-0.
It just wasn’t Petersfield’s day because even when they summoned the energy and resolve to win a clear penalty in the 65th minute – they saw it clawed out by the left diving Welch to deny them any brief fleeting moment of celebration.
The score-line could, and probably should, have been extended as the Royston players peppered their opponents goal – but no more goals were scored.
With two-thirds of the 16/17 season played Royston are well placed for the run-in and their determination and focus shown to date must remain and be demonstrated in the unquestionable harder challenges to their ambition than encountered today.
Team: Welch, Towner, Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Murray, Bridges Stuart (Frater), Fehmi (Frendo), Watkins, Nolan, Powell, Castiglione (Orlando-Young).
Subs not used – Mentis, May.