Gallery: Crows come from behind to beat Stanway
Royston Town 2 Stanway Rovers 1 FA Vase Third Round Proper UGLY scenes involving Stanway players and management berating the match officials marred Royston Town s terrific comeback in the Third Round Proper of the FA Vase. No doubt upset about a disallowe
Royston Town 2 Stanway Rovers 1
FA Vase Third Round Proper
UGLY scenes involving Stanway players and management berating the match officials marred Royston Town's terrific comeback in the Third Round Proper of the FA Vase.
No doubt upset about a disallowed goal midway through the second half, the visitors kept the referee and his linesmen out on the field of play for well over 15 minutes making sure the match officials worked hard for their �40 match fee during when a Stanway player was booked for dissent.
The irony that in the programme for the match there was a 'Respect the Ref' advert by Royston calling on visitors to "outlaw offensive, insulting or abusive language or behaviour towards match officials" had not been lost.
As for the game itself, Royston were perhaps lucky to run out winners as Stanway had enough chances in the opening 30 minutes to put the game to bed.
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The hosts, however, rode their luck in front of almost 300 spectators to make the last 32 of this competition for only the third time in the club's history.
Things looked ominous from the off with Stanway hitting the bar on three minutes and a header from a corner going inches over soon after, and matters worsened on 10 minutes when a long throw bobbled around in the box before being toe poked slowly over the line from six yards.
Jorden Gibson was kept busy and had to make a smart block moments later, but too often Royston's defenders were guilty of complacency when passing the ball around the back line and often found themselves giving it away.
The Crows struggled for fluidity up front as Stanway's game plan of closing down the hosts' most creative players Ryan Lockett and Luke Robins, so when they did manage to get an equaliser it was an unlikely goal from an unlikely source.
Full back Lewis Endacott received a long pass just inside the Stanway half on the right of the pitch and went on a run with the ball down the wing.
He managed to beat a couple of players before reaching the byline when he turned towards the box, beat another player, got the ball through a further Stanway defender's legs and tapped home to the disbelief of everyone from just three yards out.
It was a bolt from the blue.
Before Stanway had time to recover they found themselves two behind.
This time Robins, freed from the shackles of the towering Stanway back line, dropped deep to receive the ball in his own half before embarking on a run down the left.
He took two players on and drew the right back out of position to create space behind the defender in to which Arin Fehmi ran.
Fehmi received Robins' ball inside the area, turned and put a cross into the six yard box which was converted into his own goal by Kevin Hughes under pressure from Josh Bronti.
Smelling blood Royston pushed forward and Ryan Lockett fired a shot straight at the 'keeper, but again at the back some defensive hesitancy allowed Sam Newson in to round Gibson but Ben Stocker's lunge was enough to see the shot hit the outside of the post.
Boss Paul Attfield replaced defender Luke Jones with David Cain at half time to shore up the creaking defence and the substitute was immense in the second half with a handful of last minute blocks and last-ditch tackles.
The visitors had the best opportunities of the second half with Luke Callander's free kick being saved by Gibson and Liam Bailey's free kick going just wide, and they thought they had equalised when they found the net on 70 minutes.
A Bailey free kick into the box was flapped at by Gibson and the ball fell to Callander who poked the ball home. The whistle blew not for a restart but for an offside flagged by the assistant referee.
At the other end Cain and Stocker headed corners over and Bronti crossed for Ross Collins who blazed over from eight yards.
Royston looked likely to hold on but had to undergo one last heart-stopping moment.
Stanway were awarded a corner in the 95th minute and Jason Cawley headed the cross at goal only to see Fehmi, on the line, head the ball on to his own bar before it bounced into the box and was cleared.
Seconds later the whistle blew and the Royston victory was confirmed.
Attfield said: "We looked nervous in the first half and just couldn't find any rhythm. You do have to give credit to our visitors who were very solid and well organised but they helped us out with their failure in front of goal and Lewis' goal changed the whole course of the game.
"We were much better in the second half and I felt in relatively good control of it. We could have got a third but our own failure to kill off the game caused a few agonising moments but that's what you get sometimes in important cup games, lots of excitement.
"Last week we played well and lost, today we struggled for a proportion and won, that's football for you but it's massive for the players and the club to get to the last 32."
Royston: Gibson, Endacott, Fehmi, Jones (Cain), Stocker, Collins, Edwards, Bronti, Young, Lockett, Robins. Subs: Dolan, Malins, Apostolos, Dallaway.