FA TROPHY – Ebbsfleet United 0-2 Royston Town: Crows dreaming of Wembley as magical cup run continues

Royston Town are just two wins from Wembley after beating Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy. Picture: David

Royston Town are just two wins from Wembley after beating Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy. Picture: David Hatton - Credit: Archant

Royston Town are now just two wins from Wembley after they beat National League side Ebbsfleet United 2-0 in extra-time at the Kuflink Stadium on Saturday afternoon to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.

The Crows are flying high in the Southern League Central Premier Division and had already beaten three teams from higher divisions - Wealdstone, Boreham Wood and Chester City - to reach this stage of the competition, sending them into the tie full of confidence.

That confidence was was well-placed as after an entertaining but goalless 90 minutes, substitute Josh Oyinsan's far post header early in extra-time and then a cool Matt Bateman finish on 113 minutes put them through to the last-eight and just two wins from Wembley.

Crows boss Steve Castle made one change from the side that beat Rushall Olympic last Saturday as Oyinsan dropped to the bench, with Claudio Ofosu taking his place in the starting XI.

The away side made a bright start and should have had a penalty inside two minutes.

The initial chance came when Scott Bridges forced a save from Fleet goalkeeper David Gregory, and then Josh Castiglione's shot looked set to find the net until Marvel Ekpiteta blocked the shot with his outstretched arm. Unfortunately for Royston, referee Paul Howard was the only man inside the Kuflink Stadium who didn't see it that way as he gave a goal kick.

They were lucky not to fall behind on 10 minutes with a superb last ditch block from captain Adam Murray denying Gozie Ugwu from close range when he looked certain to score from Tomi Adeloye's cut back.

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The two sides then engaged in a physical battle for supremacy and it was Ebbsfleet who finished the first half stronger, with Ugwu going close again as he failed to stretch just far enough to turn home Adeloye's cross into the six-yard box.

Royston would have been pleased to go in at half-time level, but they came under more pressure just after the break as goalkeeper Joe Welch was forced to make a superb double save from close range to deny Josh Umerah.

The Crows grew into the half though and started look the more likely to score, and they nearly did just after the hour mark when a scramble inside the 18-yard box ended with Scott Bridges having a shot cleared off the line by Lawrie Wilson.

Neither side had a clear cut chance until injury time when Fleet's Jermaine McGlashan met a cross in the penalty area, but he side-footed his shot just inches wide of the post.

That meant the tie went to extra-time, but it didn't take long for Royston to get the goal they had been craving to put them ahead.

Castiglione was allowed time and space down the right, with his cross perfectly placed for Oyinsan to head goalward. Gregory tried to claw the ball away but he couldn't get there before it crossed the line, sending the Crows wild as their cup run looked set to continue.

They had Welch to thank for keeping the ahead on 105 minutes as he made a superb diving save to stop Frankie Sutherland's strike from the edge of the box.

Royston then wrapped up the game on 113 minutes as Bateman broke through and slotted the ball home, sending the squad, bench and travelling support into raptures.

It was a chaotic scene with players celebrating in the stands and the entire bench spilling onto the pitch, but it was a moment that everyone involved with the club thoroughly deserved as they wrapped up the win and a place in the last-eight.