Hammond bags brace as Royston Town defeat Aylesbury

Craig Hammond notched a brace as Royston Town bounced back into league action in style with a 3-0 away win at Aylesbury United on Saturday.

The squad availability issues have been well documented and mid-way through the week Paul Attfield had only nine of his regular first team squad fit and able to play.

An obviously positive training session on Thursday night saw Jack Bradshaw, Lewis Endacott and Ryan Ingrey all declared fit for selection. Ingrey, carrying a broken toe, would start on the bench alongside three U18 players, Connor Kilgallon, Callum Turner and possible debutant Jay Taylor.

The first half was an even affair with both teams prodding and probing but with no real penetration to declare an impetus.

Good interaction early on with Carl Edwards linking with Craig Hammond saw no real shot and a home team breakaway brought a firm but wide shot go across the Crows’ goal.

In the 13th minute the lively Ryan Lockett delivered the first of many top quality crosses into the danger area, this time just seeing Hammond slide in to parry wide when perhaps he should have troubled Rhys Marshall in the home goal.

George Lawton, in the Royston goal, had to show his strengths punching well from a Moles’ corner whilst being fouled.

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Joe DeLaSalle had a long shot saved by the keeper and on 25 minutes Royston had the ball in the net and were almost reset for the restart when the referee over-ruled his non-flagging linesman to call an offside.

Lockett’s cross had been deemed to skim Edwards’ head on its way through to the previously onside Hammond, who had duly executed a fine diving headed finish.

The home side rode this luck and stepped up a gear and forced their opponents into some desperate, but effective defending and a break from the Crows saw Lockett again menacing on the wing with this time a cut back left foot cross for Hammond to connect well but bounce back off the post with Marshall beaten.

Another speedy and purposeful home team break was thwarted with a fine tackle by Jack Bradshaw and a couple of minutes later the determined Lawton made a great save with his feet to keep the scores goalless at half-time.

Aylesbury started the brighter in the second half forcing two early corners that the Crows just about dealt with and their lacklustre and lack of early fluidity meant the home side looked the most likely to open the scoring in the first 10 minutes of the second period.

Royston regrouped and began to get a foothold, first with Bradshaw striking a long shot and then Lockett supplying another great ball for Hammond to connect well only to see his well struck effort clip off of the top of the bar.

Luke Robins had had a quiet first half but put in a good run and shot and Sam Spencer, usually sitting deep, found himself on the edge of the box to collect half clearance and drilled in a good effort to see the keeper made a decent save.

Aylesbury’s best effort of the second half came from a corner that Lawton couldn’t quite fight through the crowd and get to and the resulting attacking header went thankfully wide and another Mole’s chance saw Lawton do just enough to prevent a goal-bound shot.

Paul Attfield made two changes taking Adie Cambridge and Luke Robins off and replacing them with Ryan Ingrey and Jay Taylor who would make his first team debut playing wide left for the remaining 20 minutes of this match.

Two minutes later and the visitors were one up with Edwards filling a hole on the left wing and produced a good cross that the persistent Hammond met with a flipped header that looped in.

With Royston noticeably sitting back a bit after scoring, Aylesbury’s number 11, Gareth Price, capped a good match with a fine run and shot that was fortunately deflected away for a corner.

With the referee indicating 10 minutes left, Ryan Lockett delivered a testing corner that Joe DeLaSalle met powerfully with his head that was blocked well only for the scrabbling Mole’s defenders to see Ryan Ingrey power a snap-shot back in that avoided the crowd and made the score 0-2.

Ryan Lockett put the icing on an impressive man of the match performance delivering the cross of the day, eluding all defenders and the home keeper, for Hammond to volley home on the goal-line.

A final late substitution saw Callum Turner replace the hard-working Carl Edwards only to see defender Jack Bradshaw limp off a minute later. Luckily, the game was done and an initially rusty looking Royston secured a good away victory with a much improved second half performance.