|Date||Tuesday 5 April 2016|
|Match||Egham Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
Royston Town’s title winning plans took a blow on Tuesday night, suffering a painful defeat on the road to fellow promotion hopefuls Egham Town, who came back strongly from a half time one goal deficit and scored three unanswered goals in the second half to take the deserved and precious, three points.
The Crows’ obvious nervousness persisted from the poor goalless draw showing on Saturday and they looked tentative in all aspects of their game play throughout this untidy match.
The first 10 minutes showed a glimpse of promise, albeit scrappy and we saw the Crows push the Sarnies back enough to win a penalty on the quarter hour as Scott Bridges skipped a challenge on the left side of the penalty box and put over a chipped left foot cross that hit the raised hand of a defender and the referee blew for a penalty. Jack Bradshaw added to his impressive spot kick tally and slotted it low in the left hand corner. 0-1.
There was no real cohesion from either side but it was the hosts who seemed to be growing in momentum and their twin strikers, Goldy Capela and Bajram Pashaj, were lively all game keeping Royston centre back pairing Ryan Frater and Daniel Brathwaite more than occupied.
Up the other end chances were very few as Sarnies captain Luke Neville was impressive and his fellow defenders were also showing good strength and a good turn of speed.
Chris Watters pulled up and limped off on 38 minutes to be replaced by the comparatively inexperienced youngster Gus Scott-Morriss.
It was Steve Castle, despite being a goal up, who was the more grateful to hear the half time whistle as the home side threatened to equalise before the break but the Crows somehow kept them out and scuttled to the respite of the dressing room for no doubt loud and clear vocal redirection from Castle.
Unfortunately too many individual mistakes plagued the Crows in the second half and surrender of their slim one goal lead was inevitable as they started the half poorly and got worse. Egham had made a half time change that seemed to make them more attacking and Royston didn’t – or couldn’t – adapt to nullify.
The Crows scrambled to hold on and re-group – but to no avail as on 62 minutes it was Pashaj who assisted Capela, who was allowed too much space and his unchallenged lateral left to right run was ended with a low goal finding finish. 1-1.
Castle responded with an immediate double substitution – taking off skipper Scott Bridges, following a treated head injury, and replacing him with Tommy Hull and also removing a very quiet Rhys Hoenes from the action, swapping him for Martel Powell.
Five minutes later and Royston were behind – a handball judgement this time against the visitors and Pashaj stood up and scored the resultant penalty. 2-1.
The Crows’ effective forward play was non-existent and link up between midfield and attackers was visibly deteriorating. Castle called for three at the back and pushed Scott-Morriss up, but with the Crows duly exposed, Egham sealed the game in the 86th minute with again Pashaj punishing his opponents for poor tracking and marking and sent a good shot chest high into the gaping Royston net. 3-1.
In injury time the Crows did have their first real second half attempt on the Sarnies goal as a Ryan Towner corner was headed firmly goal-ward by Brathwaite only to go straight at keeper Jamie Norris who held on well.
This bruising defeat ended the Crows’ decent 11 match unbeaten run, but other results in the league means the title is still in their own hands with 5 games to go – but they will have to shake off these season ending nerves, find a winning solution and just simply get their obviously talented players to play better especially in the final third, if the Crows are to win promotion without the agony and lottery of the dreaded play-offs.
Team: Yates, May, Watters (Scott-Morriss), Bridges (Hull), Brathwaite, Frater, Bradshaw, Towner, Thomas, Ingrey, Hoenes (Powell).
Subs not used – McDevitt, Mason.