|Date||Tuesday 6 December 2016|
|Match||Royston Town v Hampton & Richmond Borough|
|Competition||Buildbase FA Trophy: 3rd Round Qualifying Replay|
Royston Town secured a place in the First Round Proper of the FA Trophy for the first time in their considerable history with a dogged and determined performance against their higher placed opponents, Hampton & Richmond Borough.
This was a magnificent team effort, interspersed with vital cameo performances, that all built to a tight and exciting crescendo with the Crows overturning a first half one goal deficit and coming out in the second half and scoring two goals of their own and digging in brilliantly to secure the victory.
Following early gentle sparring the game came to life in the 9th minute when H&R hit the Royston post and then in the 12th minute the outstanding Joe Welch made the first of many top class saves to deny the lively Beavers’ front line, tipping the ball over the bar with acrobatic grace.
The Crows responded with a chance of their own and the ball was delivered in and skipper Scott Bridges rose to head and his firm effort came back off of the post to find Dan Brathwaite whom headed back across the goal for John Frendo to arrive and hit his close in effort against the post from an extremely difficult tight angle.
A painful three minutes ensued for the Crows when on 29 minutes Ryan Ingrey suffered a back injury when coming down from a high challenge and whilst he was off of the pitch receiving treatment the Beavers seized the opportunity and their right wing pacey movement delivered a cross that found its way through low to the back post where Jemal Lowe was lurking to execute a simple low finish. 0-1.
The Crows reacted well and rallied enough to keep their opponents at bay up to the half-time break.
Ingrey lasted three minutes into the second half and his pain was visible as he exited the pitch for Kaan Fehmi to come on.
The Beavers exerted early second half pressure to kill this game off and fine work by all of the back line, working in unison and with control, but not without some last ditch tackles and blocks, kept their visitors from extending their lead.
This pressure was soaked up by the Crows and they slowly and carefully started to ease the play forward. The anxiety levels were ramped up as the referee missed a clear penalty area H&R handball in the box as it was driven at speed towards the goal and on 65 minutes a Gus Scott-Morriss corner fell nicely to Adam Murray who had time centrally but his flicked effort went by the post.
But the momentum was with the mighty Crows and on 67 minutes the previously denied penalty kick was awarded as Josh Castiglione’s persistence was rewarded as he surged into the box and was adjudged to have been tripped and the spot kick was given. Scott Bridges blasted the ball by the aggrieved goalkeeper. 1-1.
Suitably stung the visitors reacted and were thwarted once again by the athleticism of Welch who again sprung high and determined to deny another top corner seeking effort. Top class goalkeeping. Welch suffered a brief game stopping injury but recovered to continue after a few minutes.
This time the Crows did not switch off after the enforced injury break – they capitalised on it – on 74 minutes substitute Ryan Towner, on for Martel Powell, made a great run up the right wing, cutting in laterally and looking up to see his captain waiting. Towner’s low pass was met by Bridges first time and accurately and the ball sped unhindered into the bottom left corner – cue wild celebrations. 2-1.
As you would expect Hampton & Richmond reacted and coupled with committed defending by all the boys on black and white again it was the alert Welch that ultimately denied the Beavers an equaliser. A series of four corners pinned the Crows back but they did enough to keep their opponents out and the home side had two game stretched breakaway chances to absolutely seal the win, but the final whistle still sounded on a fantastic and history making result.
Two obviously frustrated H&R players saw after match red cards for abuse of the officials to add ugly insult to beautiful injury.
Team: Welch, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite, Bridges Scott, Murray, Frater, Castiglione, Mentis, Frendo (Thomas), Powell (Towner), Ingrey (Fehmi).
Subs not used – May, Bridges Stuart.