|Date||Tuesday 17 December 2013|
|Match||Royston Town v Rugby Town
|Competition||Calor League: Central Division One
This was an important fixture for Royston Town as they approach the half way mark of the season. Rugby Town came to the game in second place in the table, enjoying a seven match unbeaten run, and Royston’s form, whilst being better in the recent games, has not been definitive against their fellow promotion challengers and Duncan Easley, in his penultimate match in charge, rallied his troops for a challenging match.
With Joe De La Salle out through a groin injury, Easley brought in Lewis Endacott at centre-back and switched Sam Spencer for Adie Cambridge in midfield again to line up with a reasonably settled side on this increasing wet and slippery night.
A reasonably high paced start from both sides saw expected commitment demonstrated and an early mis-timed tackle brought a Crows’ free-kick that Kaan Fehmi delivered to the back post and a half clearance fell to Lewis Endacott who put his effort over the bar and another foul saw Fehmi’s dead ball delivery miss everyone. Rugby’s speedy break-aways meant the home side’s defence had to be on their guard as the action shifted between the Valley’s rapid counter-attacks and the Crow’s shorter first half pass and move football.
Kaan Fehmi was demonstrating impressive work rate with his constant closing down and showing for passes and this was inspiration for the whole team to hustle and harry and on the half hour a forced breakdown in play by Rugby saw Mitch Bryant seize the initiative surging up the left with a positive drive and arriving at the six yard line sent a cute cut back across for Ryan Ingrey to arrive perfectly to direct into the net for what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Jack Bradshaw put a free-kick straight at the Rugby keeper and Fehmi’s blocked shot fell to Ryan Lockett who put a fierce left foot drive just over the bar. Just before half-time Bradshaw’s flicked header from a Fehmi corner was only inches wide of the post. After a committed but scrappy start from Ryan Ingrey, he was working really well with Fehmi and some tight football was being played to keep the visitors in their own half.
The second half suffered in quality as the constant fine rain caused the pitch surface to be extremely slippery for both sides and play broke down many times. The Crows seemed to adapt better shifting their own play to a slightly more long ball game but still with good hold up play by Fehmi, Lockett and Bryant whereas the Valley persisted with their channel seeking longer ball game that was either dealt with well by the alert home team defenders or skidded through to Will Norris or went dead.
Sam Spencer departed the field with illness and was replaced by evergreen Adie Cambridge and it was noticeable that Rugby’s increasing frustration, mainly between themselves, caused by their inability to break down the Royston resistance, threatened to boil over.
The impressive Fehmi gave way for Rob Mason and Bryant was substituted for Luke Robins on the left wing and this tense and tight match continued, with the elusive goal chasing visitors having more of the play in the latter stages. Rugby’s best chance to equalise came in the last minute as a prolonged period of frantic forward play eventually brought a twenty yard shot that pinged off the crossbar and post angle and over to sum up the Valley’s night.
Royston’s resilience, determination, impressive team-play and sheer will to get maximum points from this important match got its reward and most of the crowd went home wet but happy.
Team: Norris, Collins, Parr, Bradshaw, Endacott, Edwards, Ingrey, Spencer (Cambridge), Lockett, Fehmi (Mason), Bryant (Robins).
Subs not used – Baird, Hammond.
Subs not used – Baird, Hammond.