Crows still flying high at Southern League Division One Central summit

Matt Nolan celebrates one of his two goals. Picture: Kevin Richards

Matt Nolan celebrates one of his two goals. Picture: Kevin Richards - Credit: Archant

Steve Castle’s Royston Town remain five points ahead of Farnborough at the top of Southern League Division One Central after a dominant win over bottom Petersfield Town.

Former Hitchin Town striker Matt Nolan was the hero of the day, scoring four, with skipper Scott Bridges and Rod Orlando-Young also netting for the Crows.

The hosts started well and after considerable pressure they went ahead on 24 minutes.

Nolan picked up a central ball and did enough to wrong-foot and spin his marker to buy himself a yard and maintain the gap and before finishing low beyond keeper Lewis Watch.

This already difficult game got a lot harder for the visitors when on 39 minutes Harry Giles was shown what looked like a harsh straight red card for a definite foul on the edge of the box on Josh Castiglione.

Nolan got his and Royston’s second on the stroke of half-time as Watch did really well, tipping a Bridges drive onto the bar only for it to bounce back for the well-placed striker to dip and head in firmly.

A half-time swap saw Stuart Bridges depart for Ryan Frater to slot in at centre-half.

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Castiglione set up Bridges on 48 minutes for a shot but this time it was straight at the keeper.

A minute later Nolan was celebrating his first hat-trick for the Garden Walk club.

With superb composure he picked up the ball just inside the box and spotted the keeper slightly stranded before executing a perfect lob into the far corner.

Scott Bridges got in on the scoring act on 55 minutes.

The ball was blocked and cleared by the visitors but it was forced back into the box and Bridges finished well.

Four minutes later and substitute Rod Orlando-Young, on for Castiglione, made it five as he drove powerfully in from the left wing and pelted a powerful drive that just went in at the near post.

The scoring was completed by Nolan on 62 minutes following some good work by surging full-back Ryan Towner.

His shot came back and pin-balled to Nolan who made sure at the second attempt.

It just wasn’t the Rams’ day because even when they summoned the energy and resolve to win a clear penalty in the 65th minute, they saw it clawed out by the diving Joe Welch to deny them any brief fleeting moment of celebration.

The scoreline could, and probably should, have been extended as the Royston players peppered their opponents’ goal but they could not add to their six-goal haul.

Royston travel to fourth-placed Marlow on Saturday.