Luke is spot-on to rescue Crows

Hoddesdon Town 2 Royston Town 2 A LATE Luke Robins penalty maintained Royston s 17-game unbeaten run – but the point was not enough to keep The Crows top of the South Midlands Division One table. Following this top-of-the-table clash, Paul Attfield s si

Hoddesdon Town 2 Royston Town 2

A LATE Luke Robins penalty maintained Royston's 17-game unbeaten run - but the point was not enough to keep The Crows top of the South Midlands Division One table.

Following this top-of-the-table clash, Paul Attfield's side moved back to second place as Haringey ­Borough saw off Bedford Town Reserves 2-0 to take over top spot.

And Royston got off to a great start when Craig Hammond volleyed home Tom Malins' deep cross with a calm finish at the back post after just five minutes.

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The pair linked up again soon after, with Hammond's header beating Hoddesdon keeper Chris Fitkin, and cannoning off the bar, before he firied over from 10 yards.

However, the hosts hit back moments later when Andy Martin headed in Matt Spiers' well-taken corner.

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Royston skipper Allan Reid then rattled the hosts' woodwork for a second time, when his brilliant 35-yard dipping strike left Fitkin rooted once more.

At the other end Damion Williamson then made a fantastic stop to deny Richard Howard, although the Royston stopper was beaten just before half time when another Spiers corner was again headed home by Martin.

To make matters worse for The Crows, they then lost leading scorer Hammond, who hobbled off with an injured leg.

However, Royston responded well in the second half, and began to move the ball around, with the hosts happy to soak up the pressure.

Hoddesdon did go close to a third, with Spiers and Martin combining once more, and Peter Ulatowski shooting wide.

Royston manager Paul Attfield then switched to a 3-4-3 formation in search of an equaliser, with Jamie Babbage, Malins, and Robins all going close.

Then with seven minutes left, ­Hoddesdon substitute Lee Tombs gave away a needless penalty with a trip on Robins, and keeping his composure, Robins dusted himself down and slotted the ball past Fitkin.

Fitkin did make amends moments later, denying defender David Cain whose snap shot looked destined for the ­Hoddesdon net.

Attfield said: "I have mixed feelings about the result. After getting off to the perfect start, we then shot ourselves in the foot by conceding two very poor goals.

"At this level, those goals were unacceptable and it gave Hoddesdon the momentum.

"Losing Craig also didn't help matters, but we showed good character in the second half and got our just rewards. It was important not to lose the game with the table being so tight, so at least we achieved that."

Attfield rated Hammond's chances of facing Kentish Town last night (Wednesday) as 50/50 and said he was prepared to rest the inform striker for Saturday's clash with Brache Sparta.

He said: "Craig will spend some time with our physio, but at the moment I don't expect him to be fit enough. And I'm not prepared to rush him back just for the sake of it because we still have a lot of games to play."

Attfield has also signed 21-year-old striker Ryan Lockett, from Ryman League side Wivenhoe Town.

Attfield said: "For his age he has a lot of experience, playing at Bishop's Stortford, Boreham Wood and Cambridge United.

"He works hard, he's strong on the ball, and I think he'll do well for us.

"Hopefully we can go into Saturday's game in a good position. We've got good momentum at the moment and that is going to be important."

Royston: Williamson, Endacott, Chappell, Cain, Babbage; Reid, Edwards, Malins, Robins; Hammond, M Turl. (Subs): Jackson, Hardy, Townsend.

Royston Res 3 Brache Sparta Res 0

ROYSTON stretched their unbeaten run to nine league games on Saturday, seeing off third-placed Brache Sparta.

The Crows' impressive form continued, with goals from Richard Lowden and a Graham Tibbals double condemning Sparta to their first defeat in eight games.

Manager Kevin Wilson said: "It was another good performance and I'm just so pleased with how well things are going at the moment.

"What is also very encouraging is the number of young players that are doing well - we have some very talented youngsters at the club.

"Everyone is playing well, and again they showed they can score goals and keep another clean sheet.

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