O’Brien nets hat-trick as Crows stay top

Royston too strong for St Margaretsbury on Tuesday night

Spartan South Midlands Premier Division

Royston Town 4-0 St Margaretsbury

DALTON O’Brien scored a hat-trick as a much-depleted Royston Town brushed aside St Margaretsbury on Tuesday night.

The win means Paul Attfield’s side remain top of the table after winning all of their opening five league matches this season.

The Crows made a blistering start and were three goals up after just 18 minutes at Garden Walk with O’Brien getting two and fellow striker Kaan Fehmi getting his from the penalty spot. The home team were guilty of missing a whole host of excellent chances throughout the match and it wasn’t until 11 minutes from time that O’Brien found the net again to claim his deserved treble.

It was a deserved win for Royston, who will go into Sunday’s FA Cup match against Romford full of confidence.

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Royston started the match firmly on the front foot and were ahead after 13 minutes when a low cross from Tom Malins wasn’t cleared and the ball was touched through to O’Brien who curled an effort inside the far post over the onrushing goalkeeper.

The lead was doubled four minutes later from the penalty spot after a great counter-attack from the hosts. Left-back Arin Fehmi picked out O’Brien who showed great awareness to release Malins through on goal, only for the winger to be brought down by the visiting ‘keeper. Kaan Fehmi confidently stroked home from 12 yards.

Things continued to get better for Attfield’s side and they were three goals to the good less than a minute after the restart. Martin Standen won an excellent header in midfield to find Malins, and the winger produced a lovely reverse pass through to O’Brien who ran through and lifted the ball over the advancing ‘keeper into the net.

Three goals was nothing less than the home team deserved against a St Margaretsbury side that looked incredibly disorganised at the back. They were playing a high line but with the pace of Kaan Fehmi and O’Brien running in behind, this proved a suicidal tactic that ultimately cost them any chance of getting something from the match.

The visitors began to defend more sensibly towards the end of the first half and could have even pulled a goal back before the interval as the Crows took their foot off the gas for a 10-minute period.

Malins was forced to bow out of the action at half time after damaging ankle ligaments following a nasty challenge from a St Margaretsbury defender just before the break. It is suspected he will be out for two to three weeks.

The second half didn’t produce the same amount of chances as the first as the match became a scrappier, and more even affair. But Royston looked far more likely to find the net and they did in the 79th minute when O’Brien notched his hat-trick. Arin Fehmi’s cross from the left caused a mix-up between two defenders and the goalkeeper, and the loose ball was tapped into the empty net from six yards.

This was another good display from the Crows, and special mention must go to the back four of Arin Fehmi, Jack Bradshaw, Lewis Endacott and in particular, Ashley Grinham, who all played exceptionally well against a physically strong front-line. It was a patched together back-line to say the least, but you wouldn’t have known it such was their calmness and organisation throughout.

Royston Town: Gibson; Endacott, Bradshaw, Grinham, A Fehmi; Malins (Edwards 45), Standen (Harris 77), Collins (c), Young; K Fehmi (Radcliffe 45), O’Brien.

Attendance: 156