Late Clunis strike ends Royston Town’s FA Trophy involvement

Ryan Ingrey contests a header. Picture: Kevin Richards

Ryan Ingrey contests a header. Picture: Kevin Richards - Credit: Archant

Royston Town’s dreams of another trip to National League South opposition in the FA Trophy were ended via a first-round replay last night (Tuesday) as they were beaten 1-0 by Ryman League Premier side Dulwich Hamlet at Garden Walk.

With a trip to Whitehawk up for grabs in the next round after they saw off Weymouth in a replay, Nyren Clunis’ late effort ensured it would be the Londoners making the journey down to the south coast on January 14.

In truth, but for a 15-minute spell just after half-time when the home side took the game to their higher-ranked visitors in this insipid first-round replay, Dulwich were the superior team on the night.

Had the Londoners’ finishing been more equivalent to the final 25 minutes of Saturday’s initial clash as they clawed their way back from 2-0 to scrape Tuesday’s replay thanks to goals from Clunis and Danny Carr they would been out of sight before their eventual 86th-minute effort.

Royston’s best chances fell to the onrushing Josh Castiglione, in the 13th minute, as he diverted Danny May’s cross over an unguarded goal from five yards out before Ryan Ingrey curled an effort inches wide of Preston Edwards’ left-hand post nine minutes after the interval.

Town lacked the same vigour of their previous week’s defeat of National League South side Hampton & Richmond Borough and in the end they failed to grab the same impressive result.

The Crows made just one change from Saturday’s 2-2 draw as the attack-minded Ryan Ingrey came in for Gus Scott-Morriss.

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Both sides started with desire to go for the jugular inside the opening moments.

Scott Bridges’ free-kick was nodded down into the path of Dan Braithwaite but his attempt was cleared from danger while a Clunis shot deflected off Stuart Bridges and wide.

Dulwich looked bright but it was Royston who had the next best opening as Frendo laid the ball into the path of May and his driven ball from the right was spurned by Castiglione.

At the other end, Joe Welch, sent-off in Saturday’s stalemate but available, kept his concentration despite the squealing of a bunch of opposition fans behind his goal to allow a Ashley Carew free-kick to drift over his bar.

The game entered a lull until the 35th minute as Hamlet carved out a double chance.

First, Stuart Bridges crucially took the ball off Gavin Tomlin’s toe 15 yards out before Clunis powered a shot which former St Albans City custodian Welch forced over the top.

Seven minutes later, Drage’s fizzing right-foot strike from 25 yards was acrobatically touched around the post by Welch.

Steve Castle’s men returned from the changing rooms with higher intensity and also broke the deadlock.

Ingrey’s effort had Edwards scrambling with crucially landed the wrong side of the post.

Clunis had been a thorn in Royston’s side all evening and his personal duel with Welch continued in the 70th minute as the keeper again stood tall to keep out an effort from the winger.

Castiglione blazed over eight mintues later after some cute interplay but it was Dulwich who would have the final say.

Nathan Green’s cross was volleyed goalwards by Clunis, rerouted off Stuart Bridges and crashed beyond the unfortunate Welch.