ROYSTON TOWN FC v CONCORD RANGERS FC
Tuesday 3rd March 2020
Royston’s pulsating FA Trophy run came to an end, in a tight encounter that could easily have gone either way, between two well-matched teams.
Having disposed of 4 higher-ranked teams in the competition already, Royston entered the tie full of confidence and fashioned the first opening on 13 minutes, as Josh Castiglione hit a well-struck effort wide. But it was Concord who grew into the game, as Kit Elliott saw a shot saved, before Jack Cawley, Scott High and James Blanchfield all put efforts narrowly wide.
With Joel Nouble troubling the Crows defence with his strength and power, it was no surprise to see him register the first goal with 35 minutes on the clock. The architect of the goal was High, who attacked space centrally, before laying the ball off to Nouble. A well-struck shot looked likely to trouble Joe Welch in the away goal, but a cruel deflection left Welch with no chance, as Concord took the upper hand.
An immediate response was the order of the day for Royston and they achieved it straight from kick-off, as Adam Murray was bundled to the ground in the Beach Boys box from a long ball straight from the re-start. The usually reliable Matt Batemen stepped forward but saw his tame effort saved by Chris Haigh, who was also quick enough off the floor to deflect the follow-up effort over. Looking to atone for his miss, Bateman rose highest from the resulting corner but was unable to keep his header down, as it ended up in the vociferous travelling army of fans, who once again had made the trip down in large numbers.
Royston continued on the front foot, now taking the game to the hosts, but bar another Bateman effort that was comfortably saved by Haigh, were unable to trouble the home defence further before half time.
With the vocal support spurring the Crows on at the start of the second half, it was the away side who continued pressing and they were rewarded with the equaliser in the 54th minute. A long ball forward was not dealt with by the home defence and Castiglione was able to touch the ball off to the advancing Luke Warner-Eley, who drilled the ball into the corner of the net, to send the away fans into raptures and once again dreaming of a trip to Wembley.
With such a big reward at stake and the energy-sapping pitch beginning to take its toll on both sets of players, the game, though always keenly contested, produced few chances. The best of them saw Adam Watkins force a smart save from Haigh at his near post, before the same player saw his shot clear the bar in the third minute of injury time, after good play from Scott Bridges and Castiglione.
As had been the case for both sides in the previous round, extra time was required and it was Concord who delivered the decisive blow in the 93rd minute. With Royston seeing an attacking play thwarted, the Beach Boys sprang quickly on the counterattack. A penetrating run through the Crows midfield and a well-weighted and timed through ball, saw substitute Decarrey Sheriff one on one with Welch and the substitute, with his first touch, placed the ball past the keeper into the net.
To their great credit, Royston responded almost immediately, as a Scott Bridges free-kick found the head of Ben Martin. A well-directed header from the tall centre half looked destined for the bottom corner, before the flying Haigh made a great save, managing to tip the effort onto the post.
With both sides now feeling the effects of such a hard-fought match, the tempo reduced, as Concord looked to cling onto their lead. A visibly tiring Royston side continued to take the battle to their hosts though and fashioned another chance with 6 minutes remaining. A long Welch free-kick was flicked on by Martin to Bridges who saw his effort tipped over by Haigh.
Unfortunately for Royston, that was as close as they came to an equaliser, as the Beach Boys played out time for the victory, leaving just Halesowen Town, between them and a date at Wembley.
A supreme effort by Steve Castle, his staff and all the players in getting to this stage of the competition and making the dream of a Wembley appearance, that would never even have been thought of by all their supporters, so close to reality. The adventure has certainly galvanised the club and has been keenly followed and supported by an ever-growing group of supporters, who have cheered the team on superbly, to help the team reach the heights of overcoming Wealdstone, Borehamwood, Chester and Ebbsfleet.
Back to the league on Saturday and with everything to play for, the season still hopefully has much to offer in the closing 2 months.
Royston: 1-Welch, 2-Scott-Morriss, 3-Warner-Eley, 4-Bridges, 5-Martin, 6-Brathwaite ©, 7-Castiglione, 8-Asafu-Adjaye (16-Green 66), 9-Murray (17-Oyinsan 73), 10-Bateman (14-Adams 84), 11-Watkins (15-Ofosu 95)
Unused: 12-Parr, 18-Brighton, GK-Smart
MOM: Dan Brathwaite
|ROYSTON TOWN||CONCORD RANGERS|
|7||EFFORTS ON TARGET||5|
|7||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||4|
|15||FREE KICKS AWARDED||13|