Mendy stunner puts Royston Town on the back foot in title race
- Credit: Archant
Tony Mendy’s last-minute Garden Walk winner put in a dent in Royston Town’s Southern League Division One Central title hopes with the hosts losing 2-1 to Chalfont St Peter on Saturday.
The afternoon did not go as hoped as the Crows were more than matched football-wise by the Saints and ultimately defeated by their effective game-plan to stifle the attacking outlets of their hosts.
With the midfields well-matched, it fell to the league’s top scorer, Tony Mendy, in particularly lethal form and from his two real self-created chances, the visitors plundered all three points and left the Crows with nothing.
The only real team change from last week came as Liam McDevitt failed a pre-match fitness test meaning Jack Bradshaw slotted back into central defence and Ryan Towner was given a start in midfield.
In a lively opening 15 minutes the Crows put pressure on the Chalfont goal and Michael Power-Simpson was called upon to make a good stop.
However, any momentum that Royston were building was abruptly halted on 19 minutes as Mendy latched onto a disappointingly unchallenged midfield header from a Ron Yates kick out and he outpaced his marker and confidently stroked the ball inside Yates’ left hand post for 1-0.
It was clear that Chalfont had done their pre-match homework as the usually potent front three of Ryan Ingrey, Rob Mason and Rhys Hoenes were nullified both individually and collectively with the Saints defence being well-marshalled by former Crow Ryan Wharton, obviously keen to do well in this important game.
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From there the visitors sat back and allowed the Crows possession but were always wary of the swift surges forward and they defended well in the final third.
The lack of real quality and composure in the attacking penalty area from the home side was palpable and the level of vocal frustration from the Royston bench with this ineffectiveness was equally intense.
On 33 minutes, the referee let everyone down with an extremely poor decision as Ingrey was blatantly fouled inside the Chalfont half but the ball sprung loose to the flying Hoenes who was away and clear into the penalty area and despite waiting a couple of seconds to assess the position the referee whistled to bring play back for an innocuous free-kick.
Again decent pressing against the encamped Chalfont defence showed promise but the chances created were unconverted and the half finished with the visitors maintaining their one-goal advantage.
In the second half the Crows also had the wind with them and constantly pushed their opponents back deeper. The formation switched to a 4-4-1-1 with the introduction of Reece Dobson on 57 minutes and on 10 minutes later, the substitute won his team a dubious – but welcome - penalty as he was clearly fouled while on a lateral run. The challenge looked just outside the box but referee Avent pointed to the spot, much to the Chalfont player’s incredulity.
Mason stepped up and blasted the penalty kick in with relish. 1-1.
So scores even and the Crows still dominant in possession and territory it looked game on and a point at least. Luke Robins replaced the slightly mis-firing Ingrey on 70 minutes and the crowd saw an Erkan Okay in-swinging corner that hit the post and a fierce Bradshaw free-kick that was well saved.
The final, slightly strange change, saw knock-carrying striker Mason replaced by defender George Powell on 85 minutes with Powell taking a centre-half position and Castle pushing big Joe DeLaSalle up to the striker position.
Unfortunately this ploy did not pay off and with one last effort the lethal Mendy seized the game for his team, exposing Powell and with the clock at 90+1 he broke through and finished past Yates.
The Crows have similar big games coming up before and over the Christmas period and maximum effort and better finishing will be needed if they are to stay with the front-runners.