|Date||Saturday 29 August 2015|
|Match||Thurrock v Royston Town|
|Competition||The Emirates FA Cup: Preliminary Round|
|Royston Scorers||Hoenes, Watters|
Royston Town commenced their national cup campaign with an FA Cup Preliminary tie versus Thurrock FC of The Ryman League, North Division, whom have had a similar stuttering start to their season as their visitors – but were unbeaten at home.
With an enforced change from Tuesday night – Ryan Ingrey carrying a dead leg, Chris Watters moved up-field and Dan Brathwaite slotted back in at left-back.
The Crows made a lively start to this cup match dominating early passages of play with Rhys Hoenes causing continued problems for his markers with tricky and speedy runs and an early shot from the spritely winger was well executed but was easily saved. Good link up play from Hoenes and Mason was pleasing to see and half chances were created and attempted – but it wasn’t until the 21st minute when Hoenes saw some fruit for his labours when he pounced on a poor pass back by Aaron Waters and his quick feet took the ball around the Thurrock keeper, Jordon Warren, and had time to spare before he blasted the ball home from 6 inches. 0-1.
A switch of wings between Watters and Hoenes seemed to have the opposite effect to what was intended as all the positivity that Hoenes was achieving on the right was removed and he found himself temporarily isolated on the left with the less mobile Watters unable to create the same occupying confusion on the right flank. This obvious change in momentum allowed the home side to equalise and on 31 minutes the ball was slotted through and Ron Yates’ charge out was less than convincing and the ball was recollected by Lewwis Spence and ably passed between defenders into an empty net. 1-1.
Royston regrouped quickly and the impressive Ryan Towner, having his best game in a Crows’ shirt so far, led the play further up the field and a tactical substitution by Steve Castle – swapping Joe Ryan for Scott Bridges – meant the visitors needed to start winning more ball in midfield and in the 43rd minute Hoenes dribbled into the box and whilst looking for a shooting opportunity or a release pass to the bellowing Mason, he was clumsily bundled over and the referee pointed to the spot. Watters slotted home confidently and the Crows left the field at half time with possibly a deserved 1-2 first half lead.
Again Royston started the new half on the front foot trying to get the ball forward quickly at every opportunity and five minutes in a Hoenes right wing run and cross saw Mason rise and head just wide of the post and then Watters put a free-kick just by the upright with Warren scrambling. Possibly the best chance for the Crows to increase their lead fell again to Hoenes who surged forward with purpose, beating all defenders, but a more committed keeper position forced him wide and the winger’s loose second touch meant the gilt-edged chance was gone.
The struggling Watters’ last contribution was another curled free-kick that the keeper this time was called upon to palm for a corner – Watters left the field for Luke Robins to take up a wide attacking role. Royston keeper Yates made a decent save as Thurrock pressed forward a goal down in this cup match and the whole game opened up more.
On 64 minutes the home side got an equaliser that was possibly the only real crafted goal of the game. A deep free-kick was floated over the static defensive line and Remi Sutton collected well, spun and buried the ball far too easily.
The last Royston substitute saw Jack Bradshaw replace Brathwaite at left-back and a tetchy period of play from both sides saw tempers strain and Thurrock’s under pressure number 4 Waters was lucky to stay on the pitch with a petulant slap out that was unpunished by the officials.
It was mainly home team probing pressure up to the final whistle and Yates again made an outstanding diving save to maintain parity and despite 5 minutes added time neither team could claim a cup-tie winner and a replay at Garden Walk is scheduled for Tuesday.
Team: Yates, Scott-Morriss, Brathwaite (Bradshaw), Powell, McDevitt, Ryan (Bridges Scott), Bridges Stuart, Towner, Hoenes, Watters (Robins), Mason.
Subs not used – Castiglione, Ingrey.