|Date||Tuesday 11 February 2014|
|Match||St Neots Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Red Insure Cup: Quarter-Final|
|Royston Scorers||Fehmi pen), Dobson|
Despite the current weather predicament being faced by many clubs, this Red Insure Cup Quarter Final came quickly after Saturday’s league events and gave Steve Castle the opportunity to get his wounded squad back together and work with them to restore some confidence.
This was a well contested match on an excellent surface in which Royston showed spirit and effort throughout and were perhaps a little unlucky with the final result. St Neots had started their premiership season poorly but recently had seen a resurgence and at no time were their lower division visitors seen as inferior and on a different night the final score may have been reversed.
Veteran home keeper Nathan Abbey kept his side in this game in the first half making some good saves to deny the effort of the Royston attack. St Neots also had shots on target that Nick Thompson and his defence dealt with.
Royston’s build up play was patient and determined and they were ultimately bossing the midfield battle, with their hosts looking to counter attack and it was against the run of controlled play that the home side took the lead. On thirty minutes a Jake Woolley cross found Matt Nolan to fire home.
The Crows' chances in this match took a further blow when defender Joe De La Salle slid in hard on Woolley on the wing and was deemed a dangerous enough challenge for the referee to get his red card out when most bystanders thought it was a yellow card at most.
The second half saw an early change with Spyros Mentis replacing Robbie Nightingale and almost immediately a surge from Mentis gave impetus to Reece Dobson who was upended in the box and the referee blew for a penalty, that was coolly despatched by striker Kaan Fehmi to equalise the score.
Carl Edwards replaced Adie Cambridge who seemed to be carrying some kind of knock and Castle was again forced to re-jig his back-line. On 61 minutes St Neots’ extra player seemed to take its toll and they re-took the lead with Lewis Hilliard rounding the defence and keeper and slotting low into the net.
A final Royston substitution was made with the welcome return of Jack Bradshaw replacing the lone striker Rob Mason, with Bradshaw slotting into left-back and pushing Reece Dobson upfront. It was fantastic to see Jack back in action following a potentially very serious injury and whilst obviously needing some games to get fully back this was a huge boost to the Royston squad.
The hosts took control of this match and despite no lack of effort from the Crow’s midfield and front line there was no real clear cut chances on goal created. St Neots effectively won this game following a breakdown of a Crows move and a surge up the right wing by Hilliard and his cross found Jay Davies who tapped in.
Still the valiant visitors were not done – they persisted in trying to get back in this match and deservedly got a goal from Dobson – his third in as many games – to tighten the score – following in a half cleared effort and drilling home low and accurately in the 90th minute.
The frantic effort to get an equaliser was thwarted and St Neots progress to the semi-final.
The much improved level of effort and determination seen from the Crows must have been pleasing for Steve Castle and although the squad suffered their third straight red card in two games that will certainly affect the league campaign late February, early March, the strength in depth of his squad and the return of some injured important players will definitely help the run-in.
Team: Thompson, Endacott, Spencer, Nightingale (Mentis), De La Salle, Cambridge (Edwards), Dobson, Collins, Mason (Bradshaw), Fehmi, Robins. Subs not used – Hammond, Parr.