|Date||Saturday 21 November 2015|
|Match||Leighton Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Scott Bridges, McDevitt|
Back to league action today with Royston Town keen to get back to their main priority after last week’s FA Trophy cheap exit. Some team and squad changes saw Scott Bridges returning immediately to the starting line up following his three game match suspension, Daniel Brathwaite coming back into left back seeing Chris Watters absent from the squad altogether. Big Joe De La Salle made his first start at centre back alongside Liam McDevitt with Jack Bradshaw remaining in the holding midfield role, continuing his impressive performances in this important position.
The first half was all Royston Town with chance after chance created for the Crows to convert this highly motivated forward play into goals. Unfortunately on an extremely poor pitch, shared with a shade of misfortune, these hard crafted chances did not quite fall for optimum value and a few misplaced cut backs and incomplete slot through passes, coupled with some frustrating and decent stops by Leighton keeper, Bradley Kirkwood, meant Royston could not impact their dominance.
The first real chance for the eager visitors came in the 13th minute when a clever lob pass from Erkan Okay found pacey Rhys Hoenes and his run and on target shot was well saved by Kirkwood pushing it wide for a corner. From this corner skipper Scott Bridges shot straight at the home team stopper.
Continued pressure kept asking the Leighton defence reasonable questions and it creaked at times and on 25 minutes a Bridges’ pass again found Hoenes, but once again Kirkwood made himself big enough to block. Two corners and two free-kicks followed and from the second free kick on 28 minutes, on the central edge of the box, Bridges stepped up to strike home an exquisite finish high into the left hand corner that this time Kirkwood could only stand and admire. A true moment of class that the Royston team have been missing during the influential skipper’s forced hiatus. 0-1.
It took until the 43rd minute for the home team to muster a real goal chance and Ron Yates belied his previous inactivity by being swift out of his goal for a clean and effective smother at the striker’s feet.
Half time and the Crows were just in front but this game was not won yet. No half time changes were made by Steve Castle and he sent his players out to try and seal this match.
Three minutes into the second period and Bradshaw put a rasping shot just over the bar and it was noticeable that Hoenes was playing wider looking to get behind his marker to deliver more telling crosses.
The game pattern was changed on 53 minutes when the Crow’s confident domination and belief that it was just a matter of time until they scored again was given a sharp reminder that there was two teams on the pitch. An absolutely unstoppable 25 yard strike from Ben Gallant drew gasps of genuine admiration from all watching as it flew into the top corner to equalise the score-line. 1-1.
This spectacular goal had two results – firstly, it galvanised the Leighton team – as this was the first goal they had scored in five games – and their resurgent belief was tangible, secondly, it panicked and unsettled the Crows as the unthinkable thought surfaced that after all their goal scoring chances it might just not be their day.
A scrappy period of play ensued as Royston struggled work the problem and to get their offensive game going again.
Again Yates played his part in this game as the home side broke well and on 70 minutes the big man made a good solid save and just after this Leighton had a really good chance to take the lead as a teasing cross came over and a relatively simple header was put just wide.
A great opportunity for the Crows to retake the lead came on 78 minutes as a crossed ball arrived at the far post for Okay to tap in but his one yard effort came back off of the post falling to Bridges but his own snap shot was brilliantly blocked on the line cuing some appropriate heads in hands from players and supporters alike.
Royston surged again but met some determined resistance from Leighton and it looked like this would be enough to thwart their efforts and as time ticked away it looked as if this match may finish as a draw.
BUT – never stop believing in this Steve Castle Royston side – they came for three points and their obvious demeanour showed they would not stop seeking these important points until the final whistle sounded.
This endeavour brought a near home side own goal on 86 minutes, as the ball was sliced clear by a hurried defender watching his clearance shave the post. From the resultant corner two minutes later the ball was teasingly delivered and Brathwaite was lurking to put in a firm low shot that was blocked by the crowd in the box. The ball looped back to Brathwaite who sent over a headed cross high and hanging and it found match winner Liam McDevitt who leapt highest to head in from a yard for an extremely important winning goal for the game play deserving, but suitably relieved, Royston Town team.
Full time – 1-2.
Team: Yates, May, Brathwaite, Bradshaw, McDevitt, DeLaSalle (Powell), Scott Bridges (Towner), Okay, Robins (Fehmi), Mason, Hoenes.
Subs not used – Stuart Bridges, Scott-Morriss.