|Date||Tuesday 3 April 2012|
|Match||Holmer Green v Royston Town
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||Edwards, K. Fehmi|
|Man of Match||John McGrandles|
This was in no way an easy game and most definitely the home side will consider themselves very unlucky not to have got something by the full time whistle. Relegation threatened Holmer Green have given The Crows two of their hardest games of the season despite their league position and if they continue to show the fighting spirit and attacking purpose displayed in this game they should avoid the drop.
Royston were good in patches but certainly nowhere near their best in a game where they started each half lively but lost momentum and quality as each half progressed. Both defences had to deal with pressurised moments and how only three goals were scored from what was created was a mystery to everyone present.
Paul Attfield selected the same team that started against AFC Dunstable on Saturday and really The Crows could have been out of sight in the first 20 minutes. Kaan Fehmi had an early shot from just inside the area saved low down before they took an early 8th minute lead when Carl Edwards curled a fine 25 yard effort wide of the keeper's full length dive.
From Ryan Lockett corners John McGrandles had a header cleared off the line and Luke Robins hit the top of the crossbar. Robins then hit a good right footed shot a foot over the crossbar with the keeper beaten and Ryan Lockett met a Tom Malins cross from 20 yards with a well struck shot that the keeper superbly tipped wide. Holmer Green defenders twice almost scored own goals with vicious left wing crosses being kicked and headed inches wide and over respectively.
Still only the one goal was scored and Holmer Green gradually worked their way into the contest which was mostly caused by Royston's lack of concentration and quality on the ball. Keeper Will Norris flapped at a right wing cross with the ball just going wide but he made amends moments later with a fine save from a well struck 25 yard free kick and when the ball was converted from close range the assistant had his flag raised for offside.
The Crows were being put under some decent pressure late in the half but worked hard defensively and got a crucial second goal just before the half time whistle. Norris claimed a set play and kicked downfield early. The ball was misjudged by the last defender which let in Kaan Fehmi who lobbed the stranded keeper with the ball just crossing the line before a defender could get back.
Fehmi had to be swapped at half time due to a bad looking thigh strain that could keep him out for a couple of weeks, he was replaced by Matt Standen and Royston started the half brightly again.
Another McGrandles header was again turned wide by the keeper from another corner and moments of good approach play just lacked a final cutting edge. Holmer Green made changes with a three man front line and packing the centre of the pitch with Royston counteracting by withdrawing Robins for Jack Friend. Matt Standen had two great chances to extend the lead, once beating the offside trap but shooting wide with the only the keeper to beat and then bringing another good save from the stopper from a Malins cut back.
The last 20 minutes saw a large assault from the home side with their gamble of so many players pushed on paying dividends. The Crows became increasingly ragged in possession of the ball which invited persistent pressure. Jason Beck gave away a poor penalty for a foul with 15 minutes remaining which was converted by Dean Allen and Holmer created enough chances to get something from the game. Norris made another superb save from another 20 yard free kick that was again converted by a player in an offside position so it was disallowed and a trio of shots from more than presentable positions should have tested the visiting goal but didn't.
The clock run its course with emotions running high from both management and players at the end of the encounter with high levels of commitment and endeavour shown and more importantly another crucial three points.
Team: Norris, Endacott, Bradshaw, McGrandles, Beck, Collins, Edwards, Malins (Clemo), K. Fehmi (Matt Standen), Lockett, Robins (Friend).