|Date||Saturday 16 April 2011|
|Match||Royston Town v Hatfield Town|
|Competition||Spartan South Midlands League: Premier Division|
|Royston Scorers||Matt Standen|
|Man of Match||David Cain|
This on paper was never going to be an easy game for The Crows. Having to build on the high expectations of a victory at league champions Chalfont St Peter on Tuesday evening and holding onto the current second placed position by a mere goal difference better ratio over Tring Athletic heaped on considerable pressure. Added to that was the fact that a number of ex Hatfield Town players are now plying their trade with The Crows after a mid-season player exodus from the Blueboys club. The game was frantic and scrappy but packed with effort with one genuine moment of quality in the second half proving vital for Royston's continued pursuit for the second placed berth with just two games remaining.
Hatfield gave a sterling performance in the first half against a Royston side that attempted to take the game to their opponents but were denied space and time on the ball in all areas of the pitch. The game was often on a knife edge in the opening 45 minutes with the constant drone of the referee's whistle interrupting proceedings and this was only to benefit the visitors as both sides got truly stuck in six first half cautions (three from each side) were administered for the over zealous.
The first half was limited with openings which based on the frantic nature of the game was understandable. Both goalkeepers dealt with basic situations well. Hatfield had a trio of half chances that all fell into Jorden Gibson's clutches and some needless free kicks Royston gave away also came to nothing. At the other end The Crows were completely devoid of clear chances until just before half time when Paul Klein broke free of the right full back but was denied by the on rushing keeper's block. They looked more threatening from set plays with David Cain having the best chance when a combination of full length dive and post kept out his downward header from a Ryan Lockett free kick.
It was clear that more control was needed in the home team's game and that duly arrived in the second half. A change of formation and a double half time substitution with the inclusion of Tom Malins and Rhys Lawrence gave the home side natural width and this helped to open up the visiting ranks.
Hatfield now had to endure some prolonged home pressure and the pace of the first half looked like it would take its toll at some point with increasing tired legs evident. Ryan Lockett fizzed a powerful half volley effort from 20 yards straight at the keeper and also had a more than decent penalty shout after being pulled back in the area by the keeper after a rare mistake from the visiting custodian.
The one moment of genuine quality arrived on 71 minutes with a neat move down the right ending with Lockett crossing for Matt Standen to head home from eight yards at the near post. The ex Hatfield Town forward enjoyed his scoring moment adding to his superb strike at Chalfont on Tuesday.
Tom Malins was unlucky not to add another shortly after when he raced into the area but smashed his shot against the foot of the post.
Hatfield continued to try and press for a late leveller but didn't really look like breaching the home defence and although it wasn't a classic game on the eye in difficult circumstances this was an excellent home result, rounding off a superb week of results
Team: Gibson, Endacott, Apostolos (Bradshaw), Cain, McGrandles, Martin Standen, Edwards (Malins), Collins, Matt Standen, Lockett, Klein (Lawrence) Unused Subs: Turl Grinham