Royston Town taste Southern League Division One Central play-off heartbreak for second successive season

Royston manager Steve Castle

Royston manager Steve Castle - Credit: Archant

Royston Town have bowed out in the Southern League Division One Central play-off semi-finals for the second season running after losing 2-1 to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in a game that finished 10-a-side at Garden Walk tonight (Tuesday).

The Crows, reduced to 10 men 11 minutes from time when keeper Ron Yates was shown a straight red for bringing down Jack Bowen in the box, were flat throughout and were lucky to go in at the break only one goal behind.

Bowen, on dual registration from United Counties League side Cogenhoe United until the end of this season, had hit the bar in the 20th minute and 10 minutes later he found the net.

Shawn Richards’ set-piece caught Royston’s backline cold and despite Ron Yates’ best efforts to keep out Jason Lee’s header, Bowen was on hand to turn the ball in for a deserved opener.

With their travelling army roaring them on, Diamonds’ momentum was stemmed at the start of the second half and Lewis Leslie should have done better with a close-range header eight minutes after the break.

There was still no sign of life from Royston and in the 79th minute the game was up.

Chris Watters’ short backpass left Bowen on the charge and having slipped the ball underneath the desperate Yates, the keeper stuck a leg out to trip the forward.

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Having used all three of their substitutes, forward Ryan Ingrey was required to don the gloves and he was left helpless by Liam Dolman’s spot-kick.

Town were slightly aided by the dismissal of Claudiu Hoban for a second bookable offence four minutes from the end but despite skipper Scott Bridges’ late consolation, as he slammed the ball beyond Matt Finlay, Steve Castle’s men were beaten.