Crows set up AFC Rushden & Diamonds play-off date after title hopes scuppered

Danny May brings the ball upfield for Royston Town. Picture: David Hatton

Danny May brings the ball upfield for Royston Town. Picture: David Hatton - Credit: Archant

Royston Town will need to negotiate the Southern League Division One Central play-offs if they are to secure promotion this season after drawing 1-1 with 10-man Egham Town at Garden Walk this afternoon (Saturday).

As it happened, champions Kings Langley saw off Petersfield Town 1-0 on their travels to claim the three points they required to ensure a third consecutive promotion anyway.

For 54 minutes the destination of the league title hung in the balance with Langley goalless in Hampshire and Royston and Egham also involved in a stalemate.

However, the dismissal of Crows centre-back Ryan Frater for an alleged punch on Chris Moore handed the Sarnies the upper hand and they stole in five minutes later to take the lead.

Bajram Pashaj barged his way past a couple of challenges before firing beyond Ron Yates.

Within moments news began to filter through of Mitchell Weiss’ goal for Langley and the title race seemed all but over.

Royston were not to be beaten though and in the 71st minute they were level.

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Great endeavour down the left-hand side saw Daniel Braithwaite swing a hopeful ball into the box and Simon Thomas towered above his man to nod home.

With a raucous home crowd willing them on, Steve Castle’s men could smell blood and 16 minutes from time Kurtney Brooks was given a second yellow for deliberate handball to bring the numbers on each side back to 10 apiece.

There was to be no winner but Royston enter the play-offs in battling form.

They now host AFC Rushden & Diamonds this Tuesday (April 26) at Garden Walk for a place in the play-off final.

Should Town reach it, they are guaranteed a home clash against either Egham or St Ives Town.