Haunt – who goes there!

ROYSTON TOWN 1 (Saunders) RUISLIP MANOR 2 (Shaw, Long) IT hasn t quite reached turmoil but Royston Town are beginning to have that haunted look which comes with the threat of relegation. Certainly, their credentials as a South Midlands League Premier Div




(Shaw, Long)

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IT hasn't quite reached turmoil but Royston Town are beginning to have that haunted look which comes with the threat of relegation.

Certainly, their credentials as a South Midlands League Premier Division club are under scrutiny.

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In Saturday's bottom-of-the-table showdown against Ruislip Manor there was nothing to suggest the Crows would survive.

And survival depends as much on themselves as it does on their rivals in these last weeks of the season.

Ruislip hauled themselves above the Crows in the congested basement of the Premier Division, but Haringey Borough's recent improvement was halted and Langford, too, did not close the gap.

One of these three clubs, it seems, will be condemned next season to the first division.

Now it is a question of which one can devise an escape plan - an act of Houdini proportions which will ensure Premier Division survival.

The Crows, as we know, were close to relegation last season, but were resilient enough to survive.

Whether that resilience will see a similar act this season remains to be seen. And time is running out.

Two games remain and unless the Crows discover a touch of inspiration then it could be an end of their tenure in the Premier Division.

So much was lacking against Ruislip even though Mark Saunders had given the Crows the lead when he stabbed home the ball in a heavily populated penalty area in the 59th minute.

But 12 minutes later Ruislip Manor equalised when Jason Shaw curled a free-kick from outside the penalty area on the left passed an unsighted Simon Dobson.

And it was Shaw who provided the free-kick that allowed Gareth Long to race across the penalty area and glance a header into the net 10 minutes later to give Ruislip Manor the lead.

Certainly, in the opening spell of the game Ruislip looked the more dangerous and intent on easing their own relegation problems.

And when awarded a penalty in the 13th minute after Chris Geldhart had handled the ball it appeared to be the opportunity to be rewarded for the early pressure.

Dobson, however, displayed the kind of agility which belies his years and dived low to his left to prevent striker Steve Hale from giving Ruislip Manor the lead.

The penalty, however, had to be re-taken after referee Chris Turner had seen encroachment into the area, and an exchange of words with Saunders left the Royston player being booked.

Hale's second attempt struck the woodwork and carried on over the bar.

So much for drama? Not quite. Mr Turner suffered a hamstring injury which meant a change of referee and a 10-minute delay while local referee Alan Wilson emerged from the crowd to run the line.

In the second-half, the Crows rarely created a chance except when Jez McMurrough headed down for Martin Westcott to place his shot wide.

For the next weeks it will all be about survival. It will be a question of determination and belief rather than quality and, as we are told, grinding out results.

After all, when it comes to this time in the season it is simply a time to stand and deliver.

Royston Town: S Dobson, P Lamont (T Galvin), C Geldhart, S Snowden, P Chappell, J McMurrough (L Bates), L Rogers (D Jefferies), J Nash, M Westcott, M Saunders, R Cannon.

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