Norris heroics send Crows into semis

Royston bounce back from FA Vase exit

Royston Town 1

Cambridge City 1 (aet)

Royston won 8-7 on penalties

Cambs Invitation Cup quarter-final

TEENAGE goalkeeper Will Norris was the hero on Wednesday night as the Crows sealed a penalty shoot-out win over Cambridge City to book their place in the semi-final of the cup.

The 18-year-old pulled off a number of saves in sudden death and even scored the winning penalty. The hot-prospect, who recently had a trial with Championship side Leicester City, had endured a couple of rare off-days in the previous two games with a sending-off against Colney Heath, as well as conceding a penalty on Saturday against Bournemouth. However he showed on Wednesday that he is a ‘keeper with plenty of promise and he kept his nerve when it mattered to send his team through.

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Boss Paul Attfield had asked for a positive reaction from the poor weekend defeat and he got just that with his team giving plenty of effort to overcome City’s threat. The Southern League high-fliers put out a mixture of first and reserve team players while Attfield was without John McGrandles, Martin Standen, Ashley Grinham and Tom Malins. Altogether six changes were made from the weekend game.

The first half was largely uneventful with both teams cancelling each other out. City were slicker on the ball without looking particularly threatening in the final third and the Crows – who worked hard – were probably a little careless in possession and created little.

Luke Robins was unlucky when he was flagged offside before volleying into the net and at the other end Will Norris blocked a close-range angled shot with his legs but chances were otherwise at a premium.

The second half was better from Royston’s point of view with a slight formation change helping them keep the ball better. As the half wore on they began to dominate the game with a number of City players becoming tired and cramping up on regular occasions.

City had to defend well and they did. Matt Standen and Ross Collins had good chances put wide and over respectively and just before full-time Standen had a close-range attempt blocked. The introduction of Kaan Fehmi and Carl Edwards helped Royston control the game, but it couldn’t stop the match from entering extra-time.

The same pattern of play continued with the Crows using their better fitness levels to gain control but still City defended well.

City goalkeeper Barrett saved superbly well when Collins sent an eight-yard volley goalwards and Kaan Fehmi was unlucky to see his floated effort hit the crossbar.

With just two minutes remaining Royston scored what seemed to be a decisive goal when Kaan Fehmi’s cross was headed in by Robins from eight yards. With the referee somehow finding five minutes to add on to the second period City scored with virtually the last kick. With numbers piled forward in attack the Crows found themselves under pressure and a forward broke into the box to equalise.

So the game went to penalties with Robins, Edwards, Arin and Kaan Fehmi all converted but Jack Bradshaw missed the fourth kick.

It meant City had a kick to win the tie but Norris saved their fifth attempt.

Norris saved City’s sixth and ninth kicks in sudden death but Collins and Ryan Lockett both missed Royston’s sixth and ninth kicks.

At 7-7 it just left the two goalkeepers as the last standing on pitch players to have a kick each and when Norris saved Barrett’s kick it was left to Royston’s teenage keeper to coolly score and take the plaudits for a nail-biting win and a place in the semi-final.

Royston Town: Norris, Clemo, Bradshaw, Endacott, Beck (A Fehmi), Collins, Lawrence (Edwards), Young (K Fehmi), Standen, Lockett, Robins.