Crows throw away points at Hatfield

Hatfield come back from two goals down to take all three points

ROYSTON suffered their first league defeat of the season in devastating circumstances away at Hatfield Town on Tuesday night.

After storming into a 2-0 first half lead it looked as though all three points had already been wrapped up. But when Hatfield pulled one back in the 38th minute the whole complexion of the game changed and two second half strikes – the winner coming three minutes from time – ensured the only thing the players took home with them was a severe case of earache after a stern dressing down from manager Paul Attfield after the match.

It had all started so well as the Crows raced out of the blocks at the Gosling Sports Stadium and took the lead after only three minutes on the clock. Right-back Ashley Grinham played a neat ball down the line to Tom Malins who produced a brilliant low cross for Luke Robins to tap home from inside the six yard box.

They could have doubled the lead moments later when striker Will Turl pounced on a poor backpass only to shoot straight at the ‘keeper.

However, they did grab the second just past the half-hour mark when Malins’ cross from the right side of the box took a large deflection and flew past the wrong-footed ‘keeper.

While this should have been the springboard for further goals, such was the dominance of Attfield’s side, sloppy defending allowed Hatfield a route back into the game seven minutes before the break when a far too simple right-wing cross was headed home from six yards by the Hatfield striker Terry Caswell. It was a poor goal to concede and signs of complacency looked to be setting in defensively when, in truth, the home side hadn’t looked like pulling a goal back at all.

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Four minutes into the second half and Royston were already riding their luck at the back when a ball into the box wasn’t dealt with and a shot from the edge of the area crashed against the underside of the crossbar before the rebound was headed against the top of the bar and out for a goal kick. A lucky escape.

It didn’t take long for Royston to relinquish their advantage and Hatfield grabbed the equaliser in the 55th minute. Centre-half Liam McDevitt was adjudged to have fouled the Hatfield winger on the left side of the box despite protests the player had dived after his heavy touch sent the ball out of play. The resulting free-kick into the packed penalty area was prodded past ‘keeper Jorden Gibson by Matt Standen to leave many Crows players with their heads in their hands.

Attfield quickly rung the changes with the introduction of striker George Brinkman and full-back Lewis Endacott in attempt to swing the tide, and Brinkman should have restored the lead when Malins’ low cross from a counterattack was clipped over the bar from eight yards when he maybe should have scored.

The game was finely poised at this point but Hatfield looked by far the hungrier side as they went in search of the winner rather than just settle for a point.

And it duly arrived in the 87th minute when Royston again failed to deal with a ball into the box from a throw-in, and the ball fell for Jason Caswell whose volley from 15 yards skipped of the greasy surface and into the top corner to complete a remarkable comeback.

It was a defeat which arrived in the cruellest of fashions but the way in which they allowed Hatfield to get back into the game will greatly concern Attfield.

And just to rub salt into the wounds, they now have to wait until next Saturday before their next league game which is at home to Chalfont St Peter.