|Date||Saturday 25th March 2017|
|Match||Royston Town v Kempston Rovers|
|Competition||Evostik League Southern: Division One Central|
|Royston Scorers||Scott Bridges, Nolan(2), Ingrey|
Going into this match there was an outside chance that if the result of Farnborough’s away game against Hanwell went our way and the Crows won – that Royston Town could end the day as Champions – there was a brief five minute spell when all the planets aligned – but the day finished as a slight disappointment as Farnborough came back from a goal down to win easily and the Crows, despite being up 3-1 and 4-2 in this game versus play-off chasing Kempston Rovers – squandered this lead and finished the game as a 4-4 draw in front of an expectant bumper home crowd of 301.
It was a nervous first half that had no real quality or game management and whilst the Crows looked keen to entertain and dominate, the standard of play demonstrated did not match the collective will. Some early probing, mainly by midfield based Danny May and wide player Josh Castiglione showed desire – but again accuracy and control were lacking.
The Crows did take the lead from a penalty kick, awarded when Ryan Ingrey bustled into the box and was scythed down in the 14th minute and skipper Scott Bridges slotted home a confident and accurate shot from the spot. 1-0.
The crowd hoped this would settle the nerves of the home team – but it seemed to go the other way as three minutes later Kempston broke and a fierce shot clipped the top of Joe Welch’s bar and two minutes later the score was level again as Shane Bush converted from a crossed ball in. 1-1.
Martel Powell became the target of some industrial challenges – first on 30 minutes as he was taken out on the edge of the box and the referee chose to play on and a great chance to score was blasted over by Ingrey. Five minutes later and Powell was down again with what looked like a painful lower back injury and he was substituted on 38 minutes with Adam Watkins coming on as a straight swap.
The scrappy half was ended with scores even at 1-1.
The second half was slightly better and certainly more open and entertaining for the crowd – even if the final score was hard to take.
Steve Castle chose to swap things up quite early in this half – removing Ryan Towner from the action at right back on 56 minutes and swapping Gus Scott-Morriss from left to right back and dropping May back into his more common full back role, bringing on Matt Nolan up front and briefly switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
This change did seem to add some momentum and on the hour mark Nolan made an immediate impact as the beneficiary of a blocked shot by Castiglione and he tapped in easily to regain the lead for the Crows. 2-1.
Castle swapped John Frendo for Kaan Fehmi and reverted to what looked like 4-3-3.
Nolan added to his impressive goals per game ratio with his second on 67 minutes – but not before the referee had failed to award the Crows a stone wall penalty when again Ingrey was felled – the veteran striker linked up with the lively Castiglione and their combination play led to a good cut back from the youngster and Nolan finished with finesse. 3-1.
A right mess up at the back on 75 minutes gifted Kempston their second goal as Welch passed out to Adam Murray who was caught on the ball and Ash Fuller punished them both instantly to score. 3-2.
A good immediate response from the Crows two minutes later saw a long central ball headed on by Nolan and Ingrey raced on and stretched out a foot to direct a perfect looping lob over the Walnut Boys’ keeper to regain the two goal advantage. 4-2.
Surely this should have been enough – but no – credit to the play off chasing visitors as they got one back from Sam Johnson on 88 minutes as the Crows game management went out of the window. 4-3.
Kempston pressed for the equaliser and it nearly came from a snap-shot that Welch saved brilliantly with his legs away for a corner. Unfortunately, the corner was defended poorly and the visitors equalised in the 94th minute from a good header by Seb Simpson. 4-4.
Ultimately a disappointment – but not a disaster – Royston travel to lowly Northwood next week still looking for three points that will almost do it with the Crows far superior goal difference still evident – but four points over the next five games will do it for sure. Come on boys – one last big effort.
Team: Welch, Towner (Nolan), Scott-Morriss, Bridges Scott, Murray, Bridges Stuart, Ingrey, May, Frendo (Fehmi), Powell (Watkins), Castiglione.
Subs not used – Frater, Brathwaite.