Hammond fires Royston to 6-1 win
Sporting London e Benfica 1 Royston Town 6 A CRAIG Hammond hat trick helped Royston to another well deserved victory against their London-based Portuguese opposition on Saturday afternoon. There were a few selection dilemmas for manager Paul Attfield ahea
Sporting London e Benfica 1 Royston Town 6
A CRAIG Hammond hat trick helped Royston to another well deserved victory against their London-based Portuguese opposition on Saturday afternoon.
There were a few selection dilemmas for manager Paul Attfield ahead of the game with Ryan Lockett away and Luke Robins, Greg Jackson and Michael Debnam all missing through injury but once again the large squad at Attfield's disposal hardly noticed the problems.
The home pitch was particularly difficult for the attractive style of football that both teams set out to play with the Sporting team technically very impressive going forward but failing to break down a resolute Crows defensive unit.
Central midfield trio Carl Edwards, Tom Malins and Arron Welch soon began pulling the strings and the Crows were able to create some good chances.
Hammond, playing in a central striking role by himself, had two early chances with two advances on goal but the first was met by a superb goalkeeping block and the second saw his drilled shot just clearing the crossbar.
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It wasn't long before the Sporting defence cracked, though, with the breakthrough coming in the 16th minute when a Matt Pring free kick was headed home by Tom Malins at the far post.
Royston had further chances to extend their lead with a vicious Hammond 20 yarder hitting the face of the crossbar and a David Cain header from a corner also coming back into play off the crossbar, but despite Benfica's good approach play they began getting increasingly frustrated in their lack of creativity around the penalty area and only had a couple of long range efforts to show for their efforts.
The visitors then scored a crucial second goal on the stroke of half time when Ricky Young sprung the offside trap and lobbed a great cross for Hammond to head in from six yards.
This gave Town the confidence to push on well in the second half as they contrived to dominate territorially.
Hammond again had a 16 yard shot strike the crossbar before the feared striker more than wrapped the game up in the 55th minute by running onto a Tom Malins through ball and rasping an angled drive high into the net.
Minutes later Malins added a fourth with a deflected effort from the edge of the area after Benfica failed to clear a free kick and Young was then unlucky not to add a fifth when his close range volley from Pring's cross was superbly blocked by the keeper.
A rare moment of defensive hesitancy cost Royston a consolation with 15 minutes left with a close range finish but Hammond soon erased the bad feeling of that goal two minutes later when he broke the offside trap again to lob over the advancing keeper to complete a hat trick.
Royston's two newest signings then linked up for the final goal five minutes from time when Danny Payne reacted quickest to his show 18-yard belter which had hit the bar to set up Pring for a close range finish to finish off the match.
Paul Attfield said: "Although the scoreline suggests otherwise I felt it was very tough for us to impose ourselves fully on the game.
"Our hosts were technically very good and we had to concentrate very hard to thwart their attacks and I felt overall we did that very well.
"Crucially we got a second goal right on half time and again I felt that was a major factor for us in the game and from there we always looked in control especially in midfield and our creativity was good from all attacking areas."
Royston: Gibson, Endacott, Apostolos (Stephens), Babbage, Cain, Welch (Payne), Edwards, Malins, Young, Hammond (Crosk), Pring.