ROYSTON TOWN FC v STRATFORD TOWN FC
Saturday 21st August 2021
Royston returned from Stratford empty-handed as the Crows suffered their first defeat of the season.
Having started so promisingly in the victory against Tamworth, Royston never achieved the same levels of performance, and even having the numerical advantage for the last 20 minutes, were unable to make much of an impression against a well-drilled Stratford outfit.
Stratford took the lead as early as the 3rd minute. There was a hint of a handball as a Crows clearance was charged down, Jack Self picked up the loose ball and curled a pinpoint cross onto the head of Janaai Gordon who guided his header beyond Joe Welch.
It took a long time for Royston to get into the game as Stratford moved the ball intelligently and worked hard to stop the Crows from playing out. Indeed, it took until the 24th minute for them to have a noteworthy spell of possession, this ended up with a Spyros Mentis header hitting the top of the bar before a scramble ensued that eventually, the home defence were grateful to hack clear.
The best chance of the half for Royston fell to Matt Bateman, who rose well to connect with a James Brighton cross but saw his header clip the outside of the post. While at the other end Welch had to be on his toes to tip over a William Dawes strike as the half ended on more even terms.
The second half started along the same vein, although Adam Murray looked fortunate not to concede a penalty in the 57th minute as a home attacker seemed to get caught, however, the decisive second goal wasn’t long in coming. Dan Brathwaite and Mentis got themselves into trouble as they tried to play out, with the resulting gift being an easy opportunity for Gordon to double his and Stratford’s goal tally in the 65th minute.
What appeared to be a potential lifeline was offered to the visitors in the 69th minute as Kynan Isaac was correctly sent off in the 69th minute for aiming an elbow into the face of Murray. There were strong protests from the home side, but there was no doubting the elbow, and Murray was off the field of play for 5 minutes whilst the physios attempted to stop the bleeding and get him patched up to continue.
In truth, it was hard to tell who had 10 men, as Stratford maintained control, and bar 2 smart saves from Liam O’Brien in the home goal, remained largely unthreatened. For their part, the home side always looked dangerous when they attacked, and it was no great surprise when a third goal was scored from the penalty spot in the 90th minute. This time the referee was not so lenient on Murray’s challenge in the penalty area and having been felled, it was Dawes who stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty to ensure the three points for the hosts.
Royston: 1-Welch, 7-Titchmarsh, 14-Brighton, 3-Brathwiate (20-Newton 67) 4-Bridges, 5-Murray ©, 19-Mentis, 16-Rotimi (11-Galliford 54), 8-Draper, 9-Adams (15-Brown 59), 10-Bateman
Unused: 17-Towner, 12-Newman
MOM: Adam Murray
|ROYSTON TOWN||STRATFORD TOWN|
|4||EFFORTS ON TARGET||5|
|6||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||1|
|17||FREE KICKS AWARDED||16|