Below-par Crows eventually overcome Holmer Green

Royston extend lead at the top of the table

Royston Town 2 Holmer Green 0

SSMFL Premier Division

IT was top versus bottom in the league on Saturday, but those watching would have been hard-pressed to determine which team was where as a lethargic performance from the Crows meant they were extremely fortunate to come away with the three points despite second half goals from Ryan Lockett and Dalton O’Brien.

Royston were well below their best against a visiting side that had to play for more than an hour with 10 men, but in the end Paul Attfield’s side extended their lead at the top of the table after second placed Leverstock Green lost 2-1 at Colney Heath.

The first half was best forgotten and probably the worst witnessed at Garden Walk this season. Both teams persistently gave away possession and the game was hampered by continuous stoppages for petty fouls and injuries.

Royston couldn’t get hold of the ball for long enough to cause problems for the visiting defence and when they did, the final ball of hope rather than quality summed up the end of most moves. Holmer offered little attacking threat but a few self-inflicted defensive errors from the Crows kept a crowd of 156 on edge.

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Just before the half hour mark Holmer were harshly reduced to ten men when a late tackle on Kaan Fehmi, which probably warranted a yellow card, was deemed serious enough by the referee for an early bath. This only made a determined Holmer Green more resolute and they deservedly got to half time on level terms.

Royston replaced an injured Luke Robins with O’Brien at half time and the hosts had their brightest period of the game in the opening 15 minutes of the half. Momentum continued and was rewarded on 58 minutes when a right-wing cross was headed goalwards by Kaan Fehmi and deflected over the ‘keeper by Lockett from close range.

Rather than further galvanise the hosts, the goal did the opposite and the 10 men of Holmer began controlling the game. One header from a free kick from just six yards went wide when it should have hit the target and another trio of set-plays flashed across goal when minimal touches from anyone could have seen goals scored.

The hosts weathered the attacking spell and hit a late second on the counterattack. Kaan Fehmi did well to outmuscle a defender and play in O’Brien whose low shot was deflected in the air off the ‘keeper’s arm but bounced agonisingly over the line despite the best efforts of a defender’s lunge on the line.

In the end the result was the most important factor but the team’s performance was one of the less effective of the season and will need improving ahead of Saturday’s tough looking FA Vase tie at Essex Senior League side Barking.

Royston Town: Norriss; Endacott, A Fehmi, Grinham, Beck; Malins (Cain), Edwards, Young, Robins (O’Brien); K Fehmi Lockett.

Subs not used: Redford, Plowright.