|Date||Monday 25 August 2014|
|Match||Royston Town v St Ives Town|
|Competition||Southern League: Central Division One|
|Royston Scorers||Fehmi, Nightingale|
In constant streaming rain, this Royston performance, as good as it was in the first half, was embarrassingly as bad in the second half seeing a surrender of a 2-0 half-time lead and more worryingly a complete capitulation throughout the team that had no strategy to recovery.
Steve Castle highlighted the state of fitness of their opponents before this match but it was his team that faded in the final half hour to throw away two important league points.
In the first period the Crows dominated almost every minute after an initial period of spirited sparring, with Scott Bridges immaculate, seeing constant home team pressing and harrying to win good ball possession creating numerous good chances on goal.
Gary Hart was winning every forward ball against a physical back line and bringing his strike partner Kaan Fehmi into the game with pleasing regularity. Fehmi himself seemed to be struggling for form, often hurrying his shots or turning into trouble. Hard-working Stuart Bridges had two good chances early on putting both over the bar.
With Castle urging patience and to keep the ball moving, the home team domination continued and on 34 minutes, with the Saints understandably panicking, a fine move by Chris Watters picked out Hart to win the ball under pressure and Fehmi went to ground to sweep in from 4 yards.
Tails up, the Crows got their second two minutes later as Robbie Nightingale, who had had a sighter earlier in the game, unleashed a great long distance shot that left keeper McLaughlin flat footed.
It was almost three just before half-time as Watters set up rampant full back Jack Bradshaw for a run on and stinging shot that smashed against the post from an acute angle.
Despite the domination it was obvious to all that this game was not done at 2-0 but Castle chose to rest the superb Ryan Wharton at half-time, shifting Bradshaw into centre-half and bringing on Nick Azzopardi at right back – this neutralised Bradshaw as a force in this game.
An early chance fell to Watters as McLaughlin made a good stop but noticeably St Ives started to get a foothold in a midfield where they had looked inferior in the first period against the Bridges brothers, who certainly did not have the same dominating impact second half.
On 55 minutes Reece Dobson replaced the effective Hart and the returning, but visibly match unfit, striker had an early chance, set up by Watters, that he chose to shoot rather than to square and the ball hit the far post and away. This was effectively Royston's last real chance on goal and the Crows would regret the many first half chances that had gone begging.
On 59 minutes St Ives made a substitution bringing on Will Muzvimbiri and this move proved significant to the final score-line.On 62 minutes Muzvimbiri got behind Dave Theobald and coolly struck the ball low past the advancing Paul Bastock and to complete St Ives’ own two minutes of goal-scoring Muzvimbiri got his second as the visibly rocking home defence failed to deal with another cross ball in and he headed in from close range to equalise the scores.
A period of stagnant midfield battle ensued with no chances at either end and in desperation Theobald was pushed upfront for the last five minutes to see if he could salvage something from this second half debacle. A last substitution of Ross Collins for the tiring Nightingale added nothing.
St Ives’ vocal fans will possibly wonder how they got a point from a game where their hosts had vastly dominated the first half but showed sufficient effort and will to get back in it during an extremely poor second period from the woeful Crows.
Team: Bastock, Bradshaw (Azzopardi), Dhillon, Theobald, Wharton, Bridges Scott, Bridges Stuart, Nightingale (Collins), Fehmi, Hart (Dobson), Watters. Subs not used – Mentis, Ingrey.