Royston Town 0–1 Kettering Town: Poppies edge Crows

Royston Town v Kettering Town

Royston Town v Kettering Town - Credit: Archant

Royston Town sunk to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Evo-Stik Southern Central League leaders Kettering Town on Saturday at Garden Walk.

The Crows struggled to finish against the Poppies, who edged the Crows with a scrappy goal from Dan Holman in a game which the hosts will see as a missed opportunity.

Royston boss Steve Castle was forced to start midfielder Spyros Mentis at centre-back alongside new signing from Harlow Town, Harold Joseph for the vital clash, amid a centre-back crisis.

Ben Martin was ruled out through injury, while Adam Murray was serving the final game of his suspension. However, Kettering were also depleted, with a virus sweeping through the squad.

The Crows kicked-off the first-half playing up Garden Walk’s slope and with a bright low sun shining into their eyes – and were a little disjointed in the early stages.

The first 15 minutes were played at a ferocious intensity to the soundtrack of Kettering’s passionate travelling support, and the sides looked evenly matched.

The hosts began to dominate the ball and force quality scoring chances in the final minutes of the half, but they went in 1-0 down at half-time.

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When Marcus Kelly swung a free-kick deep into the Crows box, the home side struggled to clear, and in the goalmouth scramble Dan Holman was able to drive home from close-range.

After the restart the Poppies looked more settled and as the half wore on, they hauled forward and created chance after chance, with only a brilliant performance from Joe Welch keeping them out.

The Crows went close with James Potton late on but couldn’t trouble the league leaders will a late challenge in injury time.