Royston Town sink play-off rivals Rushden & Diamonds

Simon Thomas scores the winning goal. Photo: David Hatton

Simon Thomas scores the winning goal. Photo: David Hatton - Credit: Archant

Simon Thomas’ goal sank Royston Town’s play-off rivals Rushden & Diamonds at the weekend.

Steve Castle’s men remain in third place in the Division One Central table, just six points behind league leaders Kings Langley with a game in hand.

The Crows are now eight games unbeaten with nine to go as the tension increases for the one automatic promotion place.

This week they travel to eighth-place Chalfont St Peter, who themselves remain hopeful of sneaking into the play-off places.

Though nothing was decided on Saturday at Garden Walk, Royston did put down an unambiguous statement of intent to all their rivals and it was their professional and disciplined display that was the difference on the day.

The Diamonds had signed proven ex-Kettering Town striker Eliott Sandy in the week, but although he was drafted straight into the starting XI he was unable to breach the Town defence.

Castle had restructured slightly giving Ryan Frater his first start at centre-half alongside Dan Brathwaite and going with Tommy Hull in the number 10 shirt with Ryan Ingrey having a seat on the bench.

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With half-time looming it took an opportunist finish from Thomas on 45 minutes to score the only goal of this close match.

An edge of box Crows free kick – conceded for a flying elbow – was driven in powerfully low and arrived at Thomas’ feet on the edge of the six yard box.

He tried to shift the ball for a right foot strike but bodies were in the way so he improvised a clever back-heel flick that wrong-footed defenders and keeper Matt Finlay alike and rolled into the bottom left corner.

Thomas also felt that he should have been awarded a penalty with 10 minutes to go following a push, but the referee turned down the appeal.

It had no bearing on the outcome of the game, and the buoyant home crowd were left happy as Town secured another three points in this enthralling season.