|Date||Monday 21 April 2014|
|Match||Royston Town v St Ives Town|
|Competition||Calor League: Central Division One|
After Saturday’s solid away game performance against possible champions Daventry Town this was viewed by many as an ideal chance for Steve Castle to demonstrate this progress to the bank holiday crowd for the last home league game of the season.
Castle instead decided to rest key players and give other players who had not featured much recently match starts and game time, choosing to start in a re-jigged 3-5-2 formation, playing a few players out of their recent positions. We saw veteran Adie Cambridge as the middle of a back three with usual centre halves Ryan Wharton and Joe DeLaSalle pushed wider allowing wing backs Jhai Dhillon and Lewis Endacott to push on. The central midfield trio of Ross Collins, Carl Edwards and Scott Bridges would provide the break-up and forward thrust and strikers Rob Mason and Reece Dobson were asked to supply the fire-power.
Basically this formation didn’t work, Royston were painfully exposed and failed to deal with crosses from all angles. Dhillon and Endacott found themselves too high, too often and the back three were woefully exposed. The midfield trio were often congested and meaningful supply to the front two was lacking.
The game did start brightly and in the third minute a diagonal run from Dobson drew an early clumsy foul for Mason to power home the resulting spot kick. It was unfortunately all down-hill from here. St Ives fashioned two half chances from too high defending and these early scares should have warned Castle of the misery to follow.
Endacott did make a good run and cross but Mason’s decent touch, spin and shot was well saved by Barney McLaughlin in the visitor’s goal. Fretful and frantic movement from the Crows had no cohesion and their fragmented movement was often halted by loss of ball or poor pass choices.
Unsurprisingly St Ives deservedly drew level on 32 minutes with a long ball being cleverly flicked on and Jon Stead’s shot was well directed and firmly hit and four minutes later an in-swinging corner from Avelino Vieira was powered home by a fine diving header – albeit unmarked – from St Ives man of the match Karl Gibbs. This second goal effectively caused Royston to have to hold out until half time and the sound of the home contingent’s displeasure, on and off the pitch was audible.
The recently under used Ryan Ingrey was sent on for the second half as Cambridge, playing his first 45 minutes for many games, was removed and the formation was reverted to 4-4-2 or possibly 4-4-1-1. Ingrey was asked to play left midfield and this pushed holding midfielder Edwards to an unfamiliar right wing position. This new formation also took Dobson back a bit leaving the willing but increasingly frustrated Mason to lead the line.
I would like to report that things improved – but they didn’t. The Crows level of football was poor and their basic ability to create chances on goal were few and far between – notably Edwards did have an early lively shot and Ingrey’s sharp turn and effort went just off target.
The visitors increased their lead on 57 minutes when George Lawton could not hold a shot and the loose ball was not cleared allowing Will Fordham to punish this sloppy defending. Ryan Lockett replaced the visibly struggling Dobson on the hour mark.
The Crow’s despair was compounded as Dhillon saw a straight red card for being adjudged the last man in a clumsy tackle on Stead.
With the game beyond them and with ten minutes to go, Castle chose to make his last change bringing on midfielder Spyros Mentis for skipper Collins. De La Salle put a free kick in a dangerous position extremely wide and St Ives completed their afternoon’s work with a fourth goal on 85 minutes with Stead netting with an on target, but half hit shot to the jubilation of the away team supporters.
Team: Lawton, Endacott, Dhillon, De La Salle, Wharton, Bridges, Collins (Mentis), Cambridge (Ingrey), Mason, Edwards, Dobson (Lockett). Subs not used – Hammond, Hart.