Crows remain perched on top
Hatfield Town 0 Royston Town 4 CRAIG Hammond's second hat trick in three games helped Royston's young charges inflict a first home league defeat on third placed Hatfield Town for almost two years. It was probably Royston's best team display of the seaso
Hatfield Town 0 Royston Town 4
CRAIG Hammond's second hat trick in three games helped Royston's young charges inflict a first home league defeat on third placed Hatfield Town for almost two years.
It was probably Royston's best team display of the season, but more importantly the win cements the Crows' position at the top of Spartans South Midlands Division One.
Before the match boss Paul Attfield had said the game could be the Crows' toughest of the season and he found himself without five first team regulars including Luke Robins and Conor De Lacy.
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Michael Debnam returned the centre of defence and Will Turl returned from university to play in central midfield, but by full time Royston had completely overwhelmed their opponents and the margin of victory should have been far greater.
Hatfield started at a furious pace and had their opponents firmly on the back foot in the opening minutes when they gained a trio of quick corners, but Royston were able to withstand the heavy pressure and soon began to press forward.
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The visitors' first opportunity came on 11 minutes when a Ryan Lockett drilled cross was palmed out by the Hatfield keeper with Hammond or Turl in close attendance, but neither player was able to get a foot on the ball.
Moments later the increasingly impressive Lockett pulled the ball back for Hammond with a goal looking like a formality from six yards, but the weak hit got stuck in the mud and the Hatfield keeper was able to smother it.
The home side's best chance of the game came on 25 minutes when a free kick was headed inches wide from ten yards, but in reality the Royston defence comfortably able to keep a third consecutive league clean sheet.
Royston's opener came on 31 minutes with Lockett once again the provider, driving the ball across the face of goal for Turl to bundle home from close range.
The score remained 1-0 until half time, but after the break Royston began like a team possessed as they completely battered Hatfield with their slick passing and pace.
On 50 minutes Craig Hammond comfortably converted a penalty after a handball in the area to make it 2-0, and three minutes later the game was all but over when Hammond beat the offside trap and rounded the keeper to fire home from ten yards.
Hatfield began to throw players forward but were unable to create any real chances, and Hammond bagged his third with nine minutes remaining when his angled twenty five yard drive deflected off a defender's shin and looped over Hatfield's keeper.
Manager Paul Attfield said: "We were absolutely and utterly immense. Never would I have given any consideration to us going to Hatfield and thrashing them in all departments as we did.
"The lads showed such maturity for such a young side in difficult conditions and against very, very capable opposition.
"It is so important to maintain these levels and the lads know this and are showing no signs of arrogance or complacency at the moment which also greatly impresses me."
Team: Williamson, Endacott (Apostolos), Stephens, Debnam, Cain, Jackson, Edwards, Turl (Young), Lockett (Tibballs), Hammond, Malins