Hart brace sinks Crows

Pre-season friendly

Royston Town 0 St Albans City 2

ROYSTON Town continued their pre-season preparations with a defeat at home to Southern Premier Division side St Albans City on Tuesday evening.

It was a good run-out for the Crows against a side from the two leagues above and there were certainly some positives manager Paul Attfield will take from the match, including two excellent performances from centre-back duo John McGrandles and new-boy Jason Beck.

Danny Hart scored both goals for the Saints – the first arriving after just three minutes – while the second was a free-kick on the hour-mark that effectively killed off a game that was already beginning to peter out due to the number of substitutions in the second half.

St Albans looked bright in the opening exchanges and it took less than 180 seconds for them to go in front. Sakho Bakare’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by Crows goalkeeper Jorden Gibson but only into the path of Hart who was on hand to head the ball into the net.

The goal seemed to inject some life into the Crows and they should have been level 10 minutes later when Ryan Lockett missed a golden opportunity. Tom Malins released Dalton O’Brian down the left and his teasing cross from the byline found Lockett in front of goal but the striker somehow skewed his effort over the crossbar from six yards out.

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Matt Standen was next to go close for Royston when he was sent clear on goal but his left-footed effort from a slight angle curled narrowly wide of Kwame Fordah’s left-hand post.

Royston played the better football in the first half but they had a lucky escape when Bakare broke the offside trap before setting up Lawrence Yaku who looked to have a simple tap in only to see his effort well blocked by McGrandles.

Royston again started slowly after the half-time break and City had three chances in quick succession to extend their lead when crosses into the box caused confusion between Gibson and his defence.

The visitors were a lot stronger after the break and midfielder Sol Shields, in particular, produced an eye-catching, box-to-box display in the middle of the park and he was at the heart of everything good that City produced.

Royston were unable to build any substantial attacks and were finding it hard to make the ball stick up front.

City’s second goal arrived on 60 minutes after Shields had been brought down on the edge of the Royston box after a surging run was halted by Martin Standen. Hart stepped up and curled an excellent effort into the bottom left-hand corner despite Gibson getting a hand to the ball.

Attfield used the remainder of the match to give game-time to his substitutes as tiredness began to set in among the starting XI.

City had further chances to add to the lead before the referee brought the match to a close, but despite the result, this was a good exercise for the Crows as they aim to be in peak condition by the time they face Harefield United on the opening day of the season on August 13.

Royston Town: Gibson, Whittaker, Beck, McGrandles, Fehmi (Grinham 66), Lockett, Edwards (Collins 66), Martin Standen, Malins, Matt Standen (Lawrence 66), O’Brian (Young 66)

St Albans City: Fordah, Frempong (Chaves 67), Braithwaite, Yorke (Lyon 62), Dedman, Ehui (Mohammed 62), Alebiosu (Magwood 62), Sol Shields, Hart (Walker 67); Yaku (Asombang 52), Bakare (Fry 62).