|Date||Friday 26 December 2014|
|Match||St Ives Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evo-Stik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Fehmi(2), Hart, O.G.|
In this traditional Boxing Day contest Royston travelled the relatively short distance to St Ives to take on a side in good form – six league matches unbeaten – on a patchy and soggy surface. With two matters to celebrate – Steve Castle in charge for 1 year and Kaan Fehmi’s 30th birthday – the Crows were obviously looking for a positive outcome.
In a 4-1-2-3 formation Royston started brightly forcing the Saints back early and bringing two early dangerous free-kicks – firstly Fehmi putting an indirect effort straight at Keeper Tim Trebes, then Chris Watters shooting high and wide and the Crows first ten minutes were highly promising.
But, as has happened too often this season, despite early dominance it was the Crows’ opponents that drew first blood. A coming together left Spyros Mentis prone and Will Muzuimbiri fed the lively Scott Sinclair who collected well and then drove a telling shot across Dom Russo in the Crows’ net to take an against the run of play lead. In a separate incident a particularly fired up Jack Bradshaw saw a yellow card for what was deemed a high tackle.
The Crows didn’t let this blip upset their momentum and with Steve Castle shouting for continued high tempo they responded well and pushed their hosts back again winning good high pitch ball forcing back foot defending and winning corners. On 20 minutes, from a deep Stuart Bridges corner the ball was collected by Fehmi at the far edge of the penalty area, with his back to goal and with a lot to do to create anything from this position, he received an unnecessary pull back and shove from Muzuimbiri that gave the referee no option but to point to the spot – the young striker received a yellow card for this rush of blood. Despite the ball moving just as he struck it, skipper Fehmi planted the penalty kick cleanly past Trebes to equalise the score-line.
With the visitors now restricting their hosts to minimal long distance efforts Royston turned the screw and good movement form Fehmi and the two front playing Ryans – Ingrey and Lockett – produced a decent string of half chances and corners that seriously tested the St Ives defence and kept Trebes busy between the sticks. The midfield triumvirate of both Bridges and the increasingly impressive Mentis were now in overdrive and their high octane industry proved enough for Royston to snatch the lead at half-time.
On 37 minutes an Ingrey fed Watters shot was parried for a corner and the Crows’ assistant manager went over to deliver the dead ball kick. The ball came over perfectly to the back post where an unchallenged Fehmi rose high to glance a well-directed header downward and into the net to take a slender, but deserved, lead into the half time dressing room.
With no Royston changes made at half-time the game resumed with St Ives trying to get back in this game but the Crows were doing some sterling defensive work, notably Mentis again, keeping good collective shape and protecting Russo admirably keeping the Saints goal-ward strikes to safe distance efforts.
St Ives’ cause was certainly not helped as they were reduced to ten men on 53 minutes. Muzuimbiri made another overzealous challenge on Mentis and this was deemed bad enough to receive a second yellow and a showing of red.
The St Ives’ bench response on the hour mark was a triple substitution throwing on all three of his available substitutes, sacrificing defenders for more attack minded players and going three at the back. Despite definitely looking more threatening going forward the Saints left gaping holes and these were expertly filled by the goal hungry Crows.
Another free-kick brought Royston’s decisive third goal. With Fehmi having been replaced by Gary Hart, the hard-working Ryan Lockett demonstrated his own pin-point ball delivery putting in a dangerous diagonal in-swinging cross and with Saints number 6, James Peters, too concerned with physically holding back big Dave Theobald than to follow the flight of the ball, Theobald flicked on just enough to strand St Ives defender Jordan Lambert so that he could only deflect further into his own net.
Two minutes later it was game over as Stuart Bridges collected the ball from his brother Scott and put a neat lob over the no-man’s land defence and found Hart lurking to volley home superbly from 15 yards.
A spirited last ditch effort from the home team saw Ben Seymour-Shove put in a shot that Russo could only parry and the loose ball fell to Kieran Fitzgerald whose square pass fed substitute Jon Stead for an easy post 90 minutes tap in.
In the dying seconds of this entertaining game Bradshaw was adjudged to have dived following a challenge in an innocuous attacking position, with the game dead and won, and received a second yellow and subsequent red card, to put a dampener on this overall pleasing day.
With three points tucked away, it is onwards and upwards to host play off chasing Barton Rovers on New Year’s Day to endeavour to keep this mini winning run going.
Team: Russo, Bradshaw, Watters (McDevitt), Theobald, Bridges Scott, Powell, Mentis, Lockett, Bridges Stuart, Fehmi (Hart), Ingrey (Hammond). Subs not used – Wharton, Dobson.