Royston Town just pipped to the play-offs

Paul Attfield

Paul Attfield - Credit: Archant

A DISAPPOINTING end to the 2012/13 Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central saw Royston Town miss out on a play-off place by just two points.

The Crows had one foot in the play-offs when leading 2-1 at AFC Hayes on Saturday and play-off rivals rivals Beaconsfield losing at Ashford Town.

However, an 87th minute equaliser from AFC Hayes’ ended Royston’s play-off hopes at the end of a fine first season in the division.

In a largely uninspiring first half Royston took a sixth minute lead with Ryan Lockett delivered a good corner to find an unmarked Tommy Malins in space to calmly side-foot volley home from four yards.

A curling Lockett shot was heading in the top corner until an impressive diving save from Hayes’ keeper Goode tipped it wide.

Heavy tackling on both Ryan Ingrey and Luke Robins saw the latter replaced on 20 minutes and this took the wind out of the visitor’s sails and the first half meandered to an end.

Without doubt the home side came out the more fired up in the second half and before they really got going Royston found the scores level.

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Sloppy defending cost them three minutes in with Mendi punishing the errors.

Royston did respond and Lee Wilson was making some sort of progress overlapping up the left wing and Ryan Lockett was having a good game creating decent chances.

The industrious Ryan Ingrey finally succumbed to continued heavy challenges and was replaced by top scorer Kaan Fehmi, but it was via an unexpected source that the lead was regained.

A free-kick was delivered into the box and the home keeper misjudged it leaving a loose ball and after two urgent swings Sam Spencer finally struck it low into the net.

With word filtering through that Ashford were winning against Beaconsfield, Paul Attfield made the decision to try and sit on this 2-1 lead. He replaced Lockett with the more defensively minded Carl Edwards, but this move only served to bring the Hayes play further up the pitch and pin the Crows in their own last third.

With the unlikely six point swing looking possible, disaster hit Royston as poor defending led to several missed clearance chances and the ball came in low from the left to see Williams volley across the goal into the net to break the Royston hearts.

Frantic efforts to get a winner never really brought any real shots on the Hayes’ goal in these last seconds and the Crows struggled to get out of their own half and the game finished as a 2-2 draw giving Beaconsfield enough for that coveted play-off place.