Royston produced arguably their best performance of the season as they swept aside promotion-chasing Taunton Town, of the Southern Premier League, in the first leg of the League Cup final.
Backed by a large number of vocal travelling supporters the Crows were on the front foot right from the very start and were rewarded with the opening goal on 5 minutes. Spyros Mentis picked up the ball in space in the Taunton half and fed the ball through to Brooklyn Ilunga who hammered a left-foot shot past home keeper Connor Sidley-Adams.
Ilunga was causing constant problems down the Crow’s left side and following a surging run and cross from him, Matt Bateman’s header forced Sidley-Adams into a fine reaction save, turning the ball away for a corner.
Having made a slow start the home side nearly equalised in the 13th minute as a Jared Lewington shot was tipped away by Dimi Kyriatzis. However, it was Royston who were in control of proceedings both territorially and possession-wise, as the midfield three of Mentis, Newton and Aransibia bossed the centre of the park.
The Crows were rewarded for their superiority right on half time, as a ball over the top found Bateman on the edge of the box. Taking a good first touch he steadied himself and rifled a low shot into the bottom corner to give the away side a well deserved 2 goal half-time cushion.
Needing to claw their way back into the tie Taunton started the second half the stronger but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities against the hard-working Crows. The arrears were nearly reduced in the 62nd minute as a Lloyd James free-kick struck the woodwork, although it looked like Kyriatzis had made a fine fingertip save. Kyriatzis was also on hand 6 minutes later to make another fine save from Gethyn Hill.
It was by no means one-way traffic though as Royston were always a threat going forward and Ilunga saw a well-struck shot hit the post before rebounding to safety.
A goalmouth scramble in the 77th minute saw a Jamie Short shot blocked, with the home players appealing for a penalty, which was dismissively waved away by the referee.
That aside, Royston competently dealt with the closing quarter of an hour and indeed could have had a 3 goal cushion for the second leg, as substitute Brandon Adams fired over before then seeing a shot saved by Sidley-Adams.
The final whistle went shortly afterwards and saw the appreciative Royston players go over to the away support who had vocally backed them throughout the 90 minutes. Celebrations were somewhat restrained, hopefully, full-bloodied ones will be seen at Garden Walk in the second leg of the final on Tuesday 29th.
1-Kyriatzis, 6-Henry, 5-Mensah, 3-Brathwaite (c), 14-Brighton (7-Titchmarsh 74), 19-Mentis, 20-Newton, 8-Aransibia (16-Rotimi 82), 11-Galliford (9-Adams 61), 10-Bateman, 17-Ilunga
Unused subs – 13-Welch, 12-Newman
Man of the match – Brooklyn Ilunga
|TAUNTON TOWN||ROYSTON TOWN|
|3||EFFORTS ON TARGET||4|
|3||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||3|
|7||FREE KICKS AWARDED||10|