|Date||Saturday 20 September 2014|
|Match||Royston Town v Leighton Town|
|Competition||Southern League: Central Division One|
|Royston Scorers||Hammond, Fehmi|
In a determined display against a dogged Leighton Town side, Royston scored two and just as pleasingly kept a good clean-sheet to take all three important league points.
In a fragmented first period, half chances were created at both ends with the home side possibly edging it with better quality of play but their visitors showing their own style persistently stopping any Crows’ tempo with spoiling fouls and robust challenges, always looking to break away quickly.
A scrappy first quarter of an hour was brightened with some composed centre-half play from George Powell making his full starting debut in place of the suspended Ryan Wharton and the youngster continued to remain cool, calm and collected throughout this whole match, working intelligently with his veteran partner Dave Theobald.
Up the other end Reece Dobson, starting for the also suspended Chris Watters, was less composed on 16 minutes when he had more time than he thought and the chance for a shot on goal came and went.
Leighton were looking most dangerous from breaks and set plays and in the 20th minute had their first real chance on goal when a well delivered corner was headed just wide by Chris Crook.
The referee was flashing yellow cards about to the Leighton players to try and rein in their committed tackles. A seemingly wrong call from the referee’s assistant happened on the half hour when a home side free kick was played into the penalty area and headed on by a Leighton defender into the net for the goal to be scratched out for offside?
Winger Dobson’s ball at feet tricks and speed was causing Michael Lyon problems and two yellow cards were picked up by the right back in relatively quick succession seeing Lyon dismissed from the pitch in the 40th minute.
The half finished goalless, but not without incident, as both teams probed and prodded but with no real conviction in front of goal.
With the rain drizzling down the two teams retook the pitch and some early pressure from Leighton suggested that they still felt they were worth more than a point even with ten men. However it was the home team that had the better chances with Lewis Endacott coming into the game, firstly supplying a good cross for a Kaan Fehmi header that was easily caught and then a long drive from the attack-minded full back found the Leighton Keeper, Dan Green, sufficiently alert to stop comfortably.
Right sided full back Jack Bradshaw took a heavy knock on the hour mark and needed treatment but on his return to the pitch was active in a good overlap run and then a powerful high shot over the bar. Returning from injury striker, Gary Hart, replaced Spyros Mentis and the squad forced but experimental 4-3-3 formation morphed back to a more familiar 4-4-2.
The breakthrough that was certainly coming and a fine football move initiated by midfield dynamo Scott Bridges who stroked a penetrative pass wide right for Fehmi on the overlap and his run on and cross back was perfect for frontman Craig Hammond to slot home from 9 yards.
Credit to the plucky ten men as they nearly responded immediately, winning another corner that came over only for big Claude Seanla’s well met header to bounce down but high over the bar for a let off for the Crows.
Robbie Nightingale was sent on to replace the blowing Dobson and this re-set led to some good interaction between Hart and Hammond that saw the striker flick an effort high and over.
The superb Paul Bastock kept his side ahead in the 80th minute with some alert and impressive goal-keeping as first a good stop then an excellently timed chase out and gather saw off the visitor’s last real chance to equalise.
The game was settled beyond doubt when in the 93rd minute a volleyed back pass was caught by Green and the resulting indirect 13 yard free kick was placed perfectly in the bottom corner by the composed Fehmi.
With this victory Royston took their unbeaten league run to five games (won 4, drew 1) and with other results going for them on the day find themselves in second place in the league, within two points of early title favourites Kettering Town, with a long way to go.
Team: Bastock, Bradshaw, Endacott, Theobald, Powell, Bridges Scott, Bridges Stuart, Mentis (Hart), Fehmi, Hammond, Dobson (Nightingale). Subs not used – Collins, Lockett, Azzopardi.