Bell Close, Leighton Buzzard Attendance: 166
Sunny spells, heavy shower at half time, mild
Referee: Mr J. Panconi
Newly-crowned league champions Royston Town were greeted by a guard of honour from Aylesbury United, but on the pitch there were no such pleasantries as a fine team performance by the Ducks sent the Crows crashing to only their fifth league defeat of the season.
With the league settled, Royston will cite other priorities such as their two Cup Finals to contend, and whilst they were without top-scorer Kaan Fehmi and a few rested players, wholesale changes to the Crows’ squad there were not.
Instead, Aylesbury’s superior desire to win the game got them the points, evident in the start they made to the match as Field and Sawyer both had good chances – Field only able to slice wide as the ball bobbled badly, whilst Sawyer lashed over on his wrong foot after Simpson had headed down Jones’ free-kick.
After just ten minutes the Ducks duly went in front. A long ball forward was met with unnecessary hesitancy from goalkeeper and defender as both waited for each other. Field needed no invitation to nip in between the two, and although his initial header was saved he was able to poke the rebound into the empty net. 1-0 Aylesbury
Royston’s first meaningful effort came two minutes later when Rhys Lawrence crashed over a shot after the ball was moved quickly to him. They then followed that up by winning a free-kick, which Jack Bradshaw fired in low straight to a defender.
Just as it seemed that the Royston pressure might be growing, Aylesbury increased their lead with a fine goal. Garcia broke down the right before linking up with Simpson, then playing an exquisite chipped pass which Field got behind the defence to head past the helpless Damian Williamson. 2-0 Aylesbury
Royston introduced tricky winger Luke Robins following the goal, and with his first touch he struck a free-kick from the corner of the box which curled over the bar.
Robins proved a constant threat as he volleyed a well directed crossfield pass back which flashed across goal, before meeting a left wing corner with a flicked header that also went wide.
United were unlucky not to have a third in stoppage time when Garcia’s cross was met by Tom Barnett at the far post with an excellent ‘scissor kick’ that rattled the crossbar. Moments later a ball into the box was nearly turned in by a Crows defender as half-time sounded almost immediately.
Half-time: Aylesbury 2-0 Royston
Royston made another change at the break as Ryan Lockett replaced the ineffective Redford up front, but there was no immediate improvement as the Ducks threatened early when Barnett played a one-two to burst into the box but was halted by an excellent sliding challenge.
John Mulholland, playing his last game of the season before suspension, had spoken pre-match of his desire to add to his goals tally, but the second half saw him come closer to scoring an own goal than finding the correct net!
His ‘best attempt’ came when a low cross was inadvertently touched goalwards, Daniel Jones saving the day with a goal line clearance.
A free-kick seconds later on the edge of the box was teed up for Lockett whose shot stung the palms of Sillitoe, which was effectively the only ‘save’ the Aylesbury custodian had to make during the match.
After a spell of pressure from the visitors a shot from Luke Robins was closed down, but just as in the first half United went straight down the other end and scored.
Royston had a number of good chances in the last third of the game, as firstly Ricky Young lashed over from inside the box with the whole goal to aim at. Carl Edwards had a shot deflected wide after a corner kick was cleared to him on the edge of the box, before the same player then shot wide again after the ball was cut back.
Stacey Field had a couple of good chances to complete his second hat-trick of the season in the final stages. Great work from Marcus Sawyer saw him beat a man and play in a low ball which Field somehow spooned over from three-yards. Then, Garcia intercepted a poor pass and beat his man down the wing and found Field, but his shot was slid behind having had to wait too long for the ball to sit right.
Aylesbury would more than settled for a 3-0 win before the game though, as they ran out well deserving winners, Royston beaten for the first time in the league since February.
Today aside, the Crows are well worthy of their league title for their consistency over the course of the season, and we wish them well for their future in the Southern League.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Richards - Royston Town photographer
Captain Jack Wood and Manager Tony Joyce receive the Team of the Month for March award from League President Brian Smith
There is a fantastic gallery of photos available at Kevin's picture website
|Minute by Minute Updates|
Two changes for the Ducks today: Sam Slatter for Russell Clark, and Tom Barnett for Joey Acheampong