Crows finish third after final-day defeat

Haringey Borough 2-1 Royston Town

ROYSTON TOWN missed out on a second place league finish on Saturday following a disappointing result away at Haringey Borough on the final day of the season.

The Crows travelled to north London looking for a result and scoreline that would keep them above Tring Athletic in second place and set out their stall, not only for the South Midlands Senior Floodlit Cup Final against Tring on Thursday, but also a strong statement of intention for next season.

But despite Ryan Lockett’s second half opener from the spot, two goals in quick succession from the home side meant Paul Attfield’s side were left to rue a host of missed opportunities throughout and ultimately a third place league finish overall after Tring’s 1-1 draw with Colney Heath.

Royston were fast, skilful and creative for most of the game, but as so often this season, they were woefully poor when it came to finishing the plethora of chances created.

After a period of initial sparring in blustery conditions and with Haringey sitting back, the first real chance of the game fell to Royston in the 19th minute when Rhys Lawrence delivered a good cross for Tom Malins who brought a good save out of Boro’s goalkeeper Greg Thurstans with a powerful header.

Seven minutes later Malins again rose to head on target but this time the effort was cleared off the line by a defender and in the 34th minute Lockett expertly brought down a Carl Edwards cross but his half volley was again well saved.

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Haringey’s number 10, Daniel Ailey, was showing good strength and aggression and caused Lewis Endacott plenty of problems but Royston’s reliable full-back did well to contain his threat.

The Crows continued to press and produced two excellent chances, the first was a Lockett flick on that fell to skipper Ross Collins who shot wide and the second when a Lockett free kick was half cleared and Malins’ effort on target was more of a back pass than a shot.

The half finished goalless and assistant manager Duncan Easley, in charge today with manager Paul Attfield away, must have been left wondering what his undoubtedly superior team of footballers had to do to find a goal.

The start of the second half saw Danny Apostolos replace the injured Jack Bradshaw at left back and again Haringey opted to sit back for the opening 10 minutes.

A double shout for hand ball in the home team’s penalty area brought a decision for a spot-kick from the referee and Lockett stepped up to drive a low shot that the ‘keeper got a hand to but couldn’t keep out and based on possession and chances created, Royston had a deserved lead with 25 minutes left to play.

On 77 minutes Lawrence gave the ball away too easily in midfield and the Crows defence lazily stood back to see a first Boro effort hit the post and rebound to striker Ailey who was given too much time to accurately side foot a shot into the net leaving Jorden Gibson to berate his inert defence. Lawrence was immediately replaced by Martin Standen.

Worse was to follow three minutes later as Gibson’s remonstrations had obviously not been heeded as a long ball over the top fell to Boro skipper David Boal who lobbed the helpless ‘keeper to give the hosts the lead.

With 10 minutes left this scoreline forced Easley to go for broke and he substituted defender David Cain for winger Paul Klein. With three minutes remaining Haringey hit the bar from a speculative long shot and the Crows surged forward with Klein delivering a fine cross for Lockett to glance a pass quickly to Collins arriving at the back post only to see him miss the target from three yards and Royston’s last chance to get something from this frustrating game went begging.

Royston Town: Gibson, Endacott, Bradshaw (Apostolos), Cain (Klein), McGrandles, Edwards, Collins (c), Malins, Young, Lawrence (Martin Standen), Lockett.

Man of the Match: Lewis Endacott

Attendance: 64