|Date||Tuesday 26th December 2017|
|Match||Royston Town v Hitchin Town|
|Competition||Evostik League South: Premier Division|
|Royston Scorers||Marriott, Bridges|
A fast start by Royston ultimately proved to be the difference in a close fought local derby, as the Crows brought an end to Hitchin’s seven match unbeaten run.
Royston were out of the blocks much sharper than the away side, as they raced into a 2 goal lead inside the opening 10 minutes. The opening goal arrived in the 6th minute, as Lewis Rolfe gift wrapped his own personal Christmas present to Adam Marriott by failing to deal with a long ball forward. The Crows striker needed no second invitation, as he pounced on the defenders poor header and easily despatched the early opportunity past Michael Johnson in the Canaries goal.
The large Boxing Day crowd, swelled by a healthy away contingent, didn’t have to wait long to see the next goal, as just 4 minutes later home skipper Scott Bridges was on hand to flick home a well directed free kick from Lee Chappell. At this point Royston were well on top and they continued to press hard against the shell shocked Hitchin side. Ex-Canary John Frendo twice went close to putting the game out of the reach of the away side, as first Johnson saved low down and then he was unable to connect with Bridges low cross.
It took 30 minutes for Hitchin to finally gain some sort of foothold in the match and threaten Josh Tibbets in the home goal. A free kick routine on the edge of the Crows box seemed to go wrong but the away side kept the ball alive inside the box and Tibbets was forced into a brave close range block.
Despite Hitchin having been largely anonymous during this opening half hour, they got themselves back in the game in the 32nd minute, as Trey Charles reacted quickest to a cross into the box. Having got in front of his marker he gleefully smashed the ball into the net from close range to halve the deficit.
With half time approaching the game became a lot more even with both midfields working hard to snuff out any attacking threat, leaving Royston to head to the dressing room with the lead, albeit being a more slender one than their endeavour deserved.
Royston again began the second half on the front foot and Marriott thought he had restored the Crows 2 goal lead, as he headed home another well flighted Chappell free kick. However his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag, on what looked like a very tight offside call.
From here Hitchin really started to take the fight towards the Royston goal, registering 13 attempts on the Crows goal during the first 30 minutes after the break. The best of these efforts saw Chappell head off the line from visiting skipper Dan Webb, then Tibbetts make a flying near post save and twice denying Jonny McNamara after a long ball had caught out the Royston back line.
Despite being under pressure Royston continued to carry a potent goal threat with Johnson saving well from Marriott and then Rolfe hitting the inside of his own post from a dangerous Josh Castiglione cross.
Having re-organised through substitutions 2 or 3 times Royston seemed to eventually find the right formula, as during the remaining 15 minutes they held the away attack at arms length allowing very few glimpses of goal to the Canaries forwards, despite a number of attacking substitutions from the away side.
Eventually frustration got the better of Rolfe, as the Hitchin centre half was correctly awarded a second yellow card to give him first use of the showers with just four minutes remaining.
There was one final scare for the Crows in the final minute of normal time but Charles was unable to keep his effort down and Tibbets was able to watch it sail over the bar into the hoards of disappointed away supporters.
In truth Hitchin probably deserved something for their second half performance, but were repelled by some determined home defending. The away side will look at their slow start, which Royston ruthlessly capitalised upon, as the catalyst for their defeat. On their part Royston will be pleased with a hard fought three points, as they look to capitalise on their games in hand, to climb into the top half of the table and try to have a say in the argument for the play off places.
Team: 1-Tibbetts, 2-Asafu-Adjaye, 3-Chappell, 4-Bridges (c), 5-Murray (12-Brathwaite 50), 6-Darling, 7-Potton, 8-Corcoran (Castiglione 59), 9-Frendo (17-Scott-Morriss 68), 10-Thomas, 11-Marriott
Unused subs – 15-Oyinsan, 16-Powell
|ROYSTON TOWN||HITCHIN TOWN|
|6||EFFORTS ON TARGET||7|
|3||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||7|
|13||FREE KICKS AWARDED||12|