Crows fight back to earn a point
But John McGrandles and Jason Beck sent off for the visitors
St Margaretesbury 2
Royston Town 2
SSMFL Premier Division
THE CROWS came from two goals down to claim a point away at St Margaretsbury on Saturday.
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The opinion of whether this was one point gained or two points dropped would be a fine debate. What was not debateable was a distinctly poor performance of the officials with highly controversial decisions leaving players, management and supporters on both sides bordering on the simmering. But probably more so the visiting team, who had both John McGrandles and Jason Beck sent off in the second half.
Paul Attfield’s team started brightly but the game changed after a defensive error on 12 minutes when a long ball was inexplicably headed across goal by Jack Bradshaw where the eager-footed forward calmly lobbed Will Norris from 20 yards.
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This rocked the Crows and woke the hosts up, with St Margaretsbury going on to have the lion’s share of possession and the better moments of the half. Long balls were causing the normally reliable Royston defence a lot of problems and the home side created three of four decent chances but poor finishing kept Royston in the contest.
The first controversial moment of the match came early in the second half when St Margaretsbury added their second through circumstances which left Attfield and his team furious.
The host’s tricky winger broke down the right and was fouled which was noticed by the assistant who duly waved his flag. The referee missed this and the winger found his feet before crossing to the far post. The referee then acknowledged his assistant and blew his whistle before Anthony Anstead headed into the net.
However when the referee understood why his assistant had waved his flag he proceeded to allow the goal to stand – despite already having stopped play – much to the anger and bemusement of the visitors.
This was to set the platform for the second half farce but not before Royston had clawed their way back to 2-2 with fine goals from Luke Robins and a Kaan Fehmi penalty.
However, despite Royston being in complete control, they were reduced to nine men within a matter of minutes to all but end their hope of winning all three points. Beck was sent off for a seemingly fair tackle on his opponent – not helped by the incessant protests from the home players – and then McGrandles was given his marching orders for protesting a decision to award St Margaretsbury a free-kick.
Having no other defenders on the bench Ross Collins went to centre half with Lewis Endacott and Robins dropping to full-back as Royston shaped up with a 4 3 1 formation. It was backs to the wall for the Crows but the referee hadn’t finished his work for the afternoon.
With 10 minutes remaining the home side were reduced to 10 players when another non-apparent infringement by the corner flag resulted in a straight red for one of their forwards.
Royston saw the game out to earn their point but it was a case of wondering what might have been had both teams finished the match with 11 players on the pitch.
Royston: Norris, Clemo, Bradshaw (Endacott), McGrandles, Beck, Collins, Edwards, Lockett, Fehmi (Young), Standen (Redford), Robins.