Gallery: Crows back with a bang
Royston Town 3 Harefield United 2 South Midlands Premier Division THE Crows finally fulfilled their first league fixture of the New Year and 60 days after their last one they recorded an excellent narrow victory over an in-form Harefield United side court
Royston Town 3 Harefield United 2
South Midlands Premier Division
THE Crows finally fulfilled their first league fixture of the New Year and 60 days after their last one they recorded an excellent narrow victory over an in-form Harefield United side courtesy of David Cain's injury time header.
Paul Attfield's men went into the game without a game of any kind for two weeks whilst Harefield arrived on the back of seven straight victories and both teams tried to play fluent attacking football throughout the game.
Despite the Garden Walk pitch not looking the greatest the tempo of the play was attractive throughout despite eight cautions being administered by the referee.
Royston started the better and in the opening exchanges both Ryan Lockett and Ross Collins shot over from good positions and Lockett had an 18-yard strike flash inches wide after some neat build up play.
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Another very fine move soon after ended with Luke Robins crossing for Tom Malins who was slightly stretching as he volleyed just over from close range.
Harefield gradually eased their way into the game and took the lead on 17 minutes with their first real chance when a right wing cross was headed in by Ben Cowen from 10 yards.
This rocked the Royston team who then often lacked the quality in their passing to open out the visiting defensive unit and with Harefield also lacking any real quality around the box the game looked destined to remain the way it was until half time.
Just before the break Ricky Young flashed a wild left footer across the face of goal and at the other end a couple of well delivered set plays were well defended by the Crows.
The half time interval came at a good time for Royston and they returned with an equaliser within the first minute of the restart.
Full-back Lewis Endacott won a good tackle some 35 yards from goal and after evading a couple of challenges placed a fine left-footed 18-yard strike past the goalkeeper's dive.
The game opened out nicely with both teams continually passing the ball well despite poor decision making continually impeding the play.
Attfield lost inspirational winger Robins to a lunging tackle that went completely unpunished but his replacement Jamie Morriss was influential in Royston taking the lead.
With 20 minutes remaining Morriss broke down the left and fed Lockett who combined with Carl Edwards who played in Young on the right to cross for new signing Russell Bull, formerly of Hitchin Town, to head home at the far post.
From then the home side continually had to defend a good onslaught from the visiting side although Jorden Gibson had a one and only meaningful save to make 10 minutes from time when he turned around a good strike from 16 yards.
He was unable to prevent the equaliser just four minutes from time, however, when a long ball from defence caught the Crows square and the substitute was given a little too much time to look up and angle a crafted lob shot into the far corner.
The visitors thought they had won it moments later when a cross was met by Cowen at the far post but his close range header was ruled out for offside.
Royston surged forward and a late attack saw a defender handle the ball with Young trying to set up a close range chance but the poorly positioned official ruled a corner to be taken.
This corner, superbly delivered by Arin Fehmi, was met by Cain at the far post who headed in via the post for his first goal of the season to win the game for his side.
Paul Attfield said his players deserved the win on the balance of play.
The Royston boss said: "I was delighted with the energy they showed throughout the game having not played for two weeks.
"Harefield are a very talented, well organised side and that combined with many frustrating decisions given against us by the referee made it a very hard game.
"To once again win a game so late on shows the desire levels of the team to succeed and it is an excellent three points for us."
Royston: Gibson, Endacott, Apostolos, Stocker, Cain, Collins, Edwards, Malins (Bull), Young, Lockett, Robins (Morriss (Fehmi)). Unused subs: Cook, De Lacy.