|Date||Tuesday 27 December 2011|
|Match||Berkhamsted v Royston Town
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||K. Fehmi, Matt Standen, Bradshaw, O.G.|
|Man of Match||Lewis Endacott
There was no sign of a Christmas hangover from The Crows as they delivered a superb first half performance on their way to a resounding 4-0 victory and will finish 2011 top of the table with Dunstable Town slipping up with a 2-1 loss at home to Colney Heath.
Paul Attfield had the players in training on Boxing Day morning and they looked sharp despite being without key personnel. Centre halves John McGrandles and Jason Beck were both serving one game suspensions and Martin Standen was missing through injury. So it was a very much new-look defensive line up with Lewis Endacott and Jack Bradshaw partnered in central defence and Luke Robins was played in an unfamiliar attacking full back position. All were assured and admirable on the way to a deserved clean sheet.
In the first half Royston were as good as they have been at any other point this season. A likeable, firm pitch helped them move the ball with great precision and pace as they tore into the game and the home side had to endure a great deal of pressure. The Berkhamsted team put much into the game as well and looked dangerous on the break in the opening stages but Royston's ball possession gradually pulled their forward players deeper and deeper into their own half and as the half wore on the home side struggled to make any inroads.
The Crows looked threatening from most positions and they created from early stages of the half. Within the first ten minutes Ryan Lockett had a free kick from wide that just eluded everyone and bounced agonisingly the wrong side of the post and another cross from Luke Robins found an unmarked Ross Collins whose angled volley flashed just wide of the far post. The waves of attacks were relentless and the lead was taken on 17 minutes. Luke Robins sent a long ball behind the square back line and Kaan Fehmi beat the onrushing keeper and back tracking defender to the bounce and bravely headed the ball into the empty net.
The quality of crossing was a particular feature of Royston's game and it was one such deep cross that The Crows got a second goal on the half hour. Tom Malins sending the cross in with Fehmi heading the ball from the goal line back into the danger area and Matt Standen was unmarked to head in from eight yards.
The game was all but made safe five minutes before half time. Under no pressure in defence the centre half knocked a blind back pass back towards where he thought his goalkeeper was but to his embarrassment the keeper was closer to him than he realised and despite the efforts of the home custodian to claw back the danger the ball had crossed the line to give Royston a three goal lead at the interval.
The pattern of play continued in the same vein in the early stages of the second half. Matt Standen volleyed a cross inches wide with the keeper beaten before the fourth and final goal in the 51st minute. Luke Robins headed Ryan Lockett's corner towards the far post and Jack Bradshaw powered and unstoppable eight yard drive high into the roof of the net.
With the visitors having firm control of the outcome the pace and intensity of the game dropped as did the quality. The new look back line and hard work of the whole defensive unit protected Will Norris to the extent he had no meaningful saves and the hosts only created one clear chance in the later moments when The Crows switched off from a corner and the cross was headed wide from close range.
Royston didn't create many opportunities in the last quarter of the game despite some good approach play. Tom Malins had the best chance when he beat offside but the keeper raced from his area to block and avert the danger.
So The Crows finish the year at the top of the league and with two four goal haul away victories back to back they go into 2012 in a strong position and a team with good confidence in their game
Team: Norris, Clemo, Robins, Endacott, Bradshaw, Collins (Lawrence), Edwards, Malins, Matt Standen (Redford), Lockett, K. Fehmi (Young) Unused : Apostolos, Easley