|Date||Monday 29 August 2016|
|Match||Royston Town v Histon|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Cohen, Mentis|
On a hot, sunny bank holiday afternoon, in front of a healthy crowd of 249, Royston secured what in the end was a routine victory against a Histon side that sit bottom of the fledgling league table. It was a game that pitted Royston’s experience and greater physical presence against a youthful Histon side that to their credit where always in the game but never really threatened to take anything from it.
With this being the second game in three days Steve Castle wisely decided to shuffle his pack and utilise the strength in depth in the Crows squad. In all five changes were made with Yates, De La Salle, Towner, Cohen and Ingrey replacing Paine, Watters, Frater, Fehmi and Castiglione. To the manager and the players credit, despite the number of changes, everyone fitted together seamlessly, slotting into their roles as befits a squad that has evolved together.
Royston were dominant in this match from the off and had created 3 efforts at goal before the first real goal scoring opportunity fell to Simon Thomas in the 17th minute. After a pass out wide Gary Cohen crossed the ball into Thomas, but with his first touch not getting the ball out of his feet he was unable to get a good enough connection to beat Nial Conroy in the Histon goal, who made an excellent stop to thwart the home number 9.
The home crowd did not have to wait long for the opening goal, although it came following the first bit of concerted Histon pressure. This resulted in 3 corners in quick succession that were well delivered and required both Ronnie Yates and his defenders to be on their guard. Indeed, from the third corner Royston built the play intelligently working their way up the pitch. A good ball wide from Spyros Mentis found the ever-willing Gus Scott-Morriss making good ground up the right hand flank and his cross was met by a combination of a diving Gary Cohen and an away defender. The end result was the ball flying into the net with Cohen claiming the opening goal.
As the half wore on Royston grew stronger and more dominant as Histon struggled to get to grips with the Royston midfield and the direct strong running of in particular Ryan Ingrey down both flanks. To Histon’s credit they defended resolutely and restricted Royston to only a handful of sights of goal, although Royston’s far greater physical and aerial presence continually caused problems for the away defence as Joe De La Salle and twice Gary Cohen directed headers towards goal, with one Cohen effort in particular well pawed away by Conroy.
Having withstood such a large amount of pressure throughout the half, Histon almost found themselves level just before the break, as skipper Max York carried the ball out of defence and cut through the home midfield, a quick exchange of passes saw him continue his run, but the shot didn’t match the enterprising burst forward and was dragged wide of Yates’ goal.
The second half followed much the same vein as the first, with Royston controlling proceedings but encouragingly starting to find a bit more fluency in their attacking play, creating a number of goal scoring chances. As early as the 3rd minute of the half another strong run from Ingrey created a shooting opportunity that flew wide. This was quickly followed by a couple of crosses into the away box, one which was well cleared under pressure and one wicked in-swinging corner from Scott-Morriss that evaded both defenders and attackers alike. Shortly after De La Salle hit a stinging free-kick from fully 25 yards out that Conroy did well to palm around his post.
The second goal that Royston craved was not long in coming as in the 63rd minute Mentis opened his account for the season. A move involving good one-touch link up play between Thomas, Martel Powell and John Frendo (who had replaced Cohen) resulted in Frendo’s pass releasing Mentis on the right hand side who strode purposefully forward and despatched a low shot past Conroy into the corner of the net.
Just a minute later it was nearly three as Frendo latched onto a well-directed headed clearance from Ryan Frater and broke the away defence to go one on one with Conroy. Frendo delayed his shot trying to get the keeper to commit but Conroy did well to stand up and managed to deflect the eventual goal bound effort with his leg, conceding a corner.
Despite the home side’s dominance and inability to put the game completely to bed, Histon continued to get the ball down and play football throughout and in the second half particularly, worked some good openings, but were ultimately let down by either poor decision making or a stray final ball.
Royston continued to create chances with Frendo (thrice), Ingrey and Frater all looking to get on the score sheet but Histon held firm despite having to replace their goal keeper through injury.
All in all, a good weekend for the Crows that saw a maximum return of 6 points over the 3 days and a positive move up the table into 5th place. Another clean sheet and a more dynamic attacking performance, as the Crows are seemingly showing good progression with each league game. With players still to come back there is hopefully continued improvement still to come as they will undoubtedly face tougher challenges as they defend the league’s only unbeaten record.
Royston: 1-Yates, 2-Scott-Morriss, 3-May ©, 4-Towner, 5-Murray, 6-De La Salle, 7-Cohen, 8-Mentis, 9-Thomas, 10-Powell, 11-Ingrey
Subs: 12-Frater (for Murray 40), 14-Frendo (for Cohen 54), 15-Watters (for Towner 24)
Unused: 16-Fehmi, 17-Castiglione
|11||EFFORTS ON TARGET||2|
|10||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||4|