More cup woe for Crows after shoot-out defeat

Royston Town 2 March Town United 2 (aet) March Town won 5-4 on penalties

ROYSTON Town bowed out of the Cambs Invitation Cup on Tuesday night after losing 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.

The match had ended 2-2 after 120 minutes of football at Garden Walk and Crows debutant Xaniel Doku was the unfortunate one to miss Royston’s final penalty which sent March Town through to the next round.

Manager Paul Attfield made a number of changes from Saturday’s match against Hanwell Town and gave starts to three new players, centre-half David Hone, centre midfielder Glen Lamacraft and striker Bobby Dance.

Full-back Tom Whittaker scored his second goal in four days while Josh Bronti also got his name on the scoresheet but it was not enough to send Royston through.

The Crows started brightly and could have gone ahead on two occasions in the opening 10 minutes when striker Tom Haynes twice burst clear of the March defence but couldn’t find a way past the ‘keeper.

They did take the lead on 15 minutes when right-back Whittaker’s 25-yard shot took a deflection off a March defender and looped into the top corner. Light-hearted protests for an own goal from team mate Bronti fell on deaf ears and the goal was awarded to Whittaker.

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The visitors were not content to just roll over, though, and their pacy front line caused the Crows defence a number of problems.

Stand-in skipper Tom Malins was unlucky not to double the lead when his excellent volley from Haynes’ pin-point cross was well tipped away by the March ‘keeper.

The visitors did equalise eight minutes before half time when Royston were slow to react to a quick free-kick and the March midfielder had time and space in the area to lift the ball over Crows ‘keeper Luke Howard.

Howard pulled off a fine stop early in the second half when he acrobatically tipped over a fierce close-range shot but the visitors took the lead minutes later after Howard’s initial save was parried to the March forward who smashed home from inside the six-yard box.

Crows stepped up a gear thereafter and eventually drew level in the 72nd minute when Malins’ superb flick down the line to substitute Doku resulted in a cross to Bronti at the far post who made no mistake with his head.

The game went into extra time and Doku should have given his team the lead after rounding the ‘keeper but his shot from a tight angle ballooned over the bar.

Neither side could find a winning goal as the game entered a penalty shoot-out.

March took the first penalty and scored all of their attempts while Malins, Bronti, Ross Collins and Dance successfully converted their spot-kicks. However, Doku couldn’t find the target as his effort cannoned back off the crossbar to signal Royston’s fifth cup defeat of the season.

It was a difficult way to lose the match after 120 minutes of football but Attfield will take heart from the fact the new additions put in decent shifts against decent opposition.

Next up for Crows is a league match on Saturday away at Harefield United.

Royston: Howard, Whittaker, Cain, Hone, Apostolos, Malins, Welch, Lamacraft, Bronti, Haynes, Dance.