Crows salvage point from six-goal thriller

Late Martin Standen strike ensures only Royston’s second draw of the season

MARTIN STANDEN’S late equaliser salvaged a deserved point for Royston Town on Tuesday night against Leverstock Green.

It was just rewards for the home side who could have easily left with all three points after missing a host of second half chances, including hitting the bar twice in second half stoppage time.

As it was, first half goals from Jack Bradshaw and Glen Lamacraft ensured a point after Lewis Pritchard, Louis Austin and Craig Preston strikes for Green.

The match started at a frantic pace but it didn’t take long for Royston to take the lead after a quick breakaway following a Leverstock corner. John McGrandles’ header clear found Ryan Lockett who knocked the ball out to the onrushing Bradshaw. Ricky Young then picked up possession with Bradshaw continuing his run into the opposing penalty area and the ball found its way through to the full-back who slotted past the ‘keeper from 12 yards.

However, the visitors were level a minute later after an absolutely stunning strike. Pritchard picked the ball up 35 yards from the Royston goal before hitting a fierce effort that flew into the net past a shocked Luke Howard.

The goals did little to alter the fast-paced flow of the match as both sides were denied time and space on the ball all over the pitch, and subsequently very few goalscoring chances were created.

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Royston re-took the lead on the half-hour mark through stand-in striker Lamacraft. The move started from Standen in his own half who released Young down the right and the winger battled past the full-back into the box before squaring to Lamacraft who had the easy task of tapping into the unguarded net.

Lewis Endacott should have extended the lead two minutes later when he found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper only to blaze his effort high over the crossbar.

Leverstock equalised five minutes before the break when Austin had an effort from the edge of the area blocked following a corner but the ball rebounded back to him and he lofted a shot over Howard and into the net.

Royston possessed more of a cutting edge in the second half and were unlucky not to go ahead when Endacott’s low drive was parried by the ‘keeper into the path of Young whose header rebounded off the crossbar to Lamacraft who headed home – only to be ruled offside by the linesman.

Lamacraft was in the thick of the action again moments later after a Leverstock defender misjudged a long clearance. The Crows striker had plenty of time to pick his spot but somehow managed to fire straight at the ‘keeper when maybe he should have done better.

As the clock ticked down it looked like being only a matter of time before Royston grabbed the winner, but disaster struck 13 minutes from time after Endacott gave away a needless free-kick on the left side of the Crows penalty area. The ball was swung in and headed back across goal to Preston who made no mistake and nodded home what looked to be the winner from close range.

But Royston didn’t give up and they were back level on 83 minutes courtesy of a fantastic strike from Standen. Substitute Ross Collins picked him out on the edge of the box from a corner, and the former Hatfield Town man controlled the ball before rifling an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner.

The Crows then laid siege to the Leverstock goal in the final minutes and were desperately unlucky not to snatch a winner.

Firstly, Lamacraft saw his header cannon back off the crossbar in added time following good work on the left by Ryan Lockett before substitute Rhys Lawrence also hit the bar with a shot from outside the box. It was an unfortunate end to the match for Royston who, with just a little bit more luck, would have emerged victorious.