Drage praise for improved Crows

Royston 4 Bishop s Stortford 3 ROYSTON ended their season with a victory – defeating a strong Bishop s Stortford. Without a goalkeeper, Stortford took advantage of a new ruling, whereby a team can play without a keeper but with an extra man on pitch. Bu

Royston 4 Bishop's Stortford 3

ROYSTON ended their season with a victory - defeating a strong Bishop's Stortford.

Without a goalkeeper, Stortford took advantage of a new ruling, whereby a team can play without a keeper but with an extra man on pitch.

But it did not seem to pay off when Nick Ross opened the scoring for Royston following a short corner.

Stortford began to move the ball around well, with their extra man beginning to tell.

And it was not long before they grabbed an equalizer, following their own short corner.

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The hosts still struggled to settle, and failed to keep possession for long.

Despite this, Royston still managed to create chances, with Andy Drage and Dave Barker both going close, before Ross made it two, following another short corner.

Nick Hurd then increased the lead further, along with top scorer Owen Russell, who took his tally to 22 goals in 15 games.

Stortford's keeper arrived at half- time, and although no longer outnumbering the hosts on the field, the visitors began to play with fluency.

And the Royston lead was quickly narrowed from yet another short corner.

The Crows pushed forward, and could have wrapped things up in the final 10 minutes with Ralph Louwers forcing a great save, and Hurd's outstretched stick narrowly missing Ross's cross from the left.

Royston captain Andy Drage said: "This was not a classic match, but was still a good victory.

"We began with too much of a friendly attitude, and should have killed the game off early on.

"We have finished fourth in our league, and have shown some real improvements from last year."

Royston III 5 Bedford IV 2

THE champions of the NE14 division 7 SW went out with a final win against Bedford and although short of five regular players showed the class that they have attained throughout the season.

They were 2-0 up at half-time, thanks to well-taken strikes from Nigel Phillips and Nick Freeman.

The second half was a different matter, and although Nick Broadley extended their lead, Royston allowed Bedford in for two easy goals.

But normal service resumed, with Philips swooping for his second of the game, and Nick Biddlecombe adding a fifth.

Royston IV 6 Winchmore Hill 3

ROYSTON finished their season on a high with an entertaining victory over Winchmore Hill.

Paul Bloomfield opened the scoring after just 19 seconds for his 12th of the season, following some clever play from skipper Matt Brunt and Chris Watson.

Steve Gourd then made it 2-0 after six minutes as a result of a well-worked penalty corner.

And he grabbed his second midway through the half with a powerful strike into the roof of the Winchmore net.

The visitors responded with their own well-taken finish, before Gourd struck again with another confident flicked goal for his hat-trick.

In the second half the visitors changed their tactics and they began to see more of the ball, with their young, quick attack beginning to threaten the Royston goal.

And their bright play was rewarded with a second that cut Royston's lead to just two goals.

However, in Gourd, The Crows had the game's biggest threat and he nabbed his fourth of the game moments later, slotting the ball past the advancing Winchmore keeper.

Both teams lost players to the sin bin, with Royston's Watson sent off for stick and verbal abuse.

As frustrations grew, The Crows then lost Gourd, and it was backs to the wall for nine-man Royston.

However, Peter Gibson and Steve Welding protected Gary Pinner admirably and kept the visiting attack at bay.

Watson then returned to the field and he had the final say, netting Royston's sixth of the game following some clever link up play with Bloomfield.

Royston captain Smith said: "Having had a goal difference of minus 19 in October, and finishing the season with one of plus 38 shows how we have improved.

"Our solid defending, tight midfield and a mixture of pace, guile, and good finishing meant we have finished the season on a high.

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