|Date||Thursday 1 January 2015|
|Match||Royston Town v Barton Rovers|
|Competition||Evo-Stik League Southern: Division One Central|
This was a performance of gritty New Year determination from the Crows, good enough to open up 2015 with a pleasing 1-0 win against an in form and recently reinvigorated Barton Rovers team.
Steve Castle re-shuffled his pack due to injuries, illness, suspensions and unavailability and came up with a squad that were certainly up for the job. This display of commitment and desire overcame the poor pitch surface and the efforts of their play-off chasing visitors and earned the Club a good positive result.
This focussed team attitude was more than complemented by a superb man of the match display from keeper Ron Yates who defied Barton’s well-constructed goal scoring efforts with a string of athletic diving saves and brave, committed blocks and stops.
Early half chances fell to the hard working duo of Ryan Lockett and Ryan Ingrey but their efforts were dealt with competently and Barton forged their own early forays that saw the Crows’ experienced defensive line-up communicating well and organised enough to deal with the Rovers’ forward line being led by Keshi Anderson who is being watched by various clubs at the moment.
Skipper Kaan Fehmi’s all round recent form has been impressive and his intelligent space finding picks ups and holding play were evident again today. It was Fehmi’s low driven free-kick on 13 minutes that stung away keeper Kyle Forster’s hands enough for him to palm down and Ingrey couldn’t quite get his own feet right to find a prod in. Barton’s own 20 yard free kick three minutes later was suitably punched away safely by Yates.
With the soft pitch cutting up and sizeable divots appearing, the already challenging surface proved to be a factor in this game making close control difficult and ground based passing tricky to say the least. Lockett did well wide right finding the by-line with a strong run and looking up for output but there were no supporting bodies in sight and the chance slipped.
The equally committed visitors demonstrated why they have been building some momentum this season by forcing a series of corners and it was here when big Ron Yates stood tall making some important stops – notably a fine double block and tackle sequence that was executed with level head and concentration to ensure clean and timely challenges and not giving the referee any decisions to make.
On 35 minutes Yates made an outstanding tip over save from a dangerous free kick that Kevin Kilroy struck with venom, eluding the wall and heading top left corner bound saw Yates rise late, but perfectly, to tip onto bar and over – video evidence in existence – top quality match defining stuff.
Another Lockett surge and another Yates top drawer save took us to half time with scores and honours blank and even respectively.
With the weather dark and depressing it was this competitive game that kept all spirits up and with Royston pressing probingly early in the second half it brought the only goal of the game that cheered the home crowd further.
On 55 minutes a half chance fell to Lockett and his driven effort was deflected for a Crows’ corner that Stuart Bridges, having an impressive match in central midfield, went over to deliver. The deftly delivered corner ball hung tantalisingly, begging to be either struck goalward or cleared, but it avoided all efforts and fell at the far post for the ever alert Fehmi to demonstrate his prowess in scoring important goals as he swept it in left-footed low and firm giving Forster no chance to save and Fehmi’s exuberant celebration of this first goal of the new year was heartfelt and infectious.
Ingrey and Lockett continued to work hard but real open chances to increase this lead were few and far between and Ingrey earned himself a rest with Reece Dobson being given a run on 65 minutes and five minutes later Lockett gave way for Gary Hart to do his thing.
Barton showed good intent and stretched themselves going three at the back but it was Royston organisation and dominant defending that held firm with the returning Lewis Endacott providing a competent cameo – on for Ryan Wharton – for the last 10 minutes that complimented the already solid looking backline.
To their credit Barton continued to try and get something from this close and interesting match and Yates wasn’t finished with his afternoon’s work yet, making another really good save as Rovers’ forwards’ continued good movement won a series of free-kicks with their endeavour.
Dobson had a good chance to seal the win in these stretched last minutes, but when found by a good through ball his first touch was heavy and it ran through to a grateful keeper.
The Crows held everything tight, despite late Barton pressure and the home team defence – inspired by the magnificent Yates – recorded a fine clean sheet and Royston took all three points from this committed contest.
Team: Yates, Wharton (Endacott), Watters, McDevitt, Theobald, Collins, Bridges Stuart, Mentis, Lockett (Hart), Fehmi, Ingrey (Dobson). Subs not used – Hammond, Kilgallon.