|Date||Saturday 3 March 2012|
|Match||St. Margaretsbury v Royston Town
|Competition||Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League: Premier Division
|Royston Scorers||Robins, K. Fehmi (pen)|
|Man of Match||Carl Edwards
Whether this was one point gained or two points dropped would be a fine debate. What was not debateable was a distinctly poor officiating performance with highly controversial decisions that left players, management and supporters from both sides perplexed, bordering on simmering.
This was a game The Crows were forced to come from behind in, mainly their own doing, with a poor first half performance where they allowed their workmanlike hosts to grow in stature and gain ascendancy and momentum.
Paul Attfield largely stuck with the team that had performed admirably at Tring Athletic in midweek with the only change being Ross Collins replacing the injured Martin Standen.
The Crows did start the better of the two teams with three good chances in the opening exchanges before the hosts could settle. First Kaan Fehmi reacted on a defensive mistake to send a 25 yard lob goalbound but the ball struck the crossbar and bounced behind the goal. Moments later Luke Robins was put through but his angled 16 yard drive across the keeper went the wrong side of the upright. The trio of chances ended with Jack Bradshaw sending a deep cross goalwards that was smartly tipped over the crossbar by the keeper for a corner.
The game then changed on a defensive error on 12 minutes and long ball was inexplicably headed across goal by Bradshaw where the eager footed forward calmly lobbed Will Norris from 20 yards.
This rocked the Crows and woke the hosts up who went on to have the lion’s share of possession and good moments of the half. Long balls were causing the normally reliable Royston defence an awful lot of problems and the home side created three of four decent chances but poor finishing in front of goal kept The Crows in the contest. Five minutes before half time Kaan Fehmi hit a sweet twenty yarder that was tipped over but the first controversial moment happened just before the interval.
St Mag's tricky winger broke down the right and was fouled which was noticed by the assistant. The referee missed the flagging and the winger kept his feet and crossed deep to the far post. The official then spotted the flagging and blew his whistle just before the ball was headed in at the far post by Anstead. Whilst playing the advantage rule would have been most legitimate the fact he had blown his whistle a good two seconds before the ball entered the net meant the game should have been brought back for the free kick. Stunningly when the referee understood what the assistant was flagging for the goal was quickly awarded and much vigorous protest ensued.
This was to set the platform for the second half farce but at this stage The Crows were two goals down and needed to perform better in the second half.
That they did in the opening stages with Lewis Endacott replacing Jack Bradshaw at full back at the interval and Attfield's side found a spring in their step and were back level within fifteen second half minutes.
Firstly Ryan Lockett's diagonal 20 yard ball into the box picked out the run of Luke Robins who stroked a fine 15 yard drive inside the keeper's far post and then another ball from Lockett released full back Endacott who was bundled over in the area and the reliable Kaan Fehmi struck firmly into the corner from the spot.
Now in complete control of the contest, The Crows were unwittingly outdone by further bizarre refereeing decisions. First Jason Beck won a sublime tackle in midfield with the ball going off for a goal kick and no decision imminent other than the award of the goal kick. Howls of protest from the home side pressured the referee into a short stoppage during which Beck was called over and sent off. The award of the much delayed free kick when a whistle had not even been blown compounded everyone's rage with Royston quickly reshuffling their pack, but within five minutes the situation went from bad to worse.
The hosts were then awarded a free kick outside the box, Lewis Endacott was spoken to by the referee who looked as though he would punish the full back but he then inexplicably called John McGrandles over and sent off The Crow's other centre half for protesting.
Having no other defenders on the bench, Ross Collins went to centre half with Endacott and Luke Robins dropped into full back as Royston shaped up with a 4 3 1 formation. It was backs to the wall for The Crows but the referee hadn't finished his work for the afternoon.
With ten minutes remaining, the home side were reduced to ten players when another unapparent infringement by the corner flag resulted in a straight red for one of their forwards. St Mags still had a one man advantage and had some good chances to win the game in an allotted injury time period of twelve minutes which was remarkable considering there were no injuries for treatment within the half. Will Norris blocked two goal bound efforts in the closing stages but The Crows did well to hold out for the point on a very frustrating afternoon.
Team: Norris, Clemo, Bradshaw (Endacott), McGrandles, Beck, Collins, Edwards, Lockett, Fehmi (Young), Matt Standen (Redford), Robins Unused: Lawrence, Malins