|Date||Sunday 31st October 2010|
|Match||Hemel Hempstead Stags Aces v Royston Town Youth Colts|
|Competition||Hertfordshire County Challenge Cup|
|Royston Scorers||Jamie P (3), Mick (2)|
|Man of Match||Jamie P – Brilliant all round display of dogged defending and important goal-getting|
Team – Lewis, Brad, Jamie C, Jamie P, Joe, Callum, Matt, Tom F, Jack, Mick, Bruce, Tom T, Keiran.
We started our 2010/2011 Herts County Challenge Cup campaign with a visit to Hemel Stags Aces Diamonds on a fresh and overcast morning that threatened rain but held off with the odd intermittent drizzle. We arrived to find a smallish school pitch that was flat and reasonably even but with grass length that was described as “bushy”. We were without goalie Rory today so we asked Lewis to get between the posts and he did so with his usual keenness.
Looking at the Diamond’s website it can be seen that they have had a strong start to their league season playing and winning four matches and scoring a lot of goals. You never know the real strength of these other teams as some of the leagues are different quality to the Royston Crow League but we believed that with a good record like that we were in for a competitive match. We were given a friendly welcome and we warmed the boys up ready for the kick off.
We decided to start with five in midfield, as this had worked well last week, with Keiran, Callum, Matt, Foxy and Jack looking a strong and lively line up, with a good mix of solidity and attacking flair, with Mick on his own upfront, Lewis was in goal and we had the usual quality defence of Brad, Joe, Jamie C and Jamie P with Bruce and Tom raring to go when asked.
The game started with a frenzy of midfield action with both teams battling and challenging for the ball. On this small and narrow pitch it can only be said that the midfield was rather congested but as this was where most of the play was the Royston boys were immediately in this match and the Diamonds certainly knew they were in a game. Jack latched onto a good early through pass and put the ball in the net well only to have it ruled out as offside. The feisty midfield action continued and JP stepped up and took control sending through a great ball (the first of many) that Mick ran onto and scored well to take the lead 0-1. Callum put in a strong run and shot but their keeper did well. We sent on Tom for Jack and Bruce for Foxy and changed to 4-4-2 to free up the tight midfield. Again a JP pass split their defence and Jack ran on and shot but this time his effort went wide. A Mick corner was half cleared and Keiran had a good long shot that went wide. Some good pressure by the Diamonds led to a missed clearance and their player seized the opportunity and put a long shot high into the net giving Lewis no chance 1-1. This fired the Diamonds up and they came at us again and another good move led to a shot being brilliantly cleared off the line by Brad only for it to fall to their striker to bury it for 2-1. Royston came back at Hemel straight away forcing a corner and Mick sent it over for JP to connect firmly to bring the game back level at 2-2..More tremendous effort and Royston retook the lead with some fine work by Callum in midfield by winning the ball strongly, surging forward and making a great through pass to Mick who controlled and ran on to finish well for 2-3. Keiran forced another good save from their keeper and Lewis did equally well making a great save only for the ball to rebound to their striker who put the ball over the bar. The exciting half finished with the score-line at 2-3.
It was a great game to be involved with – it was a really good cup tie with two good teams going for it. Quality could be seen on both sides and the Royston midfield and defence had worked hard in the first half but the Diamonds had still forced a few chances on goal. We asked for more of the same levels of effort and commitment and sent them out again.
The second half started with the Diamonds again bringing the game level. A good through ball caught our defence on the back foot and their striker sped on and finished well 3-3. We swapped JC for Jack and asked him to do a job on this speedy attacker and it can be seen that he never had another shot on goal. Up the other end Mick did a good run up the left wing and sent a pass over for Keiran to connect well but the ball hit the post and another shot from Keiran was well saved. We retook the lead from another corner with once again the alert JP seizing the opportunity and finished superbly for 3-4. JP completed his hat-trick and all round brilliant performance by getting on the end of a Foxy cross following a good flick by Callum. Mick did more good work up the left and put over a great ball that Foxy connected to firmly but his shot went wide. To shut up shop we put JC back on to go five at the back and the game finished with the final score 3-5.
An exciting and well contested match played in a great spirit. I think overall we edged it with opportunities on goal and the score-line could have been more. The Diamond’s coach congratulated our team and highlighted the great performance by our defence and wished us well for the next round.
Man of the match was Jamie P for an outstanding contribution to this game. He was strong in defence, creative in going forward and deadly in front of goal scoring a good hat-trick. All the team were tremendous and today’s performance was the highlight of our season so far. Great effort from everyone.