Stuttering start to new season for Royston Town

James Ewington for Potters Bar, Jack Bradshaw for Royston

James Ewington for Potters Bar, Jack Bradshaw for Royston - Credit: Archant

Royston Town picked themselves up after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Uxbridge to grab a satisfying point from Tuesday night’s home clash with Barton Rovers, the side that eliminated the Crows from last season’s Southern League Division One Central play-offs.

Chris Watters’ penalty, after Rhys Hoenes was felled, cancelled out Jason Blackett’s first-half opener in a 1-1 stalemate at Garden Walk.

Royston were unlucky not to snatch all three points from Rovers but they could have no complaints with their Uxbridge defeat.

Town’s game was fragmented and clumsy, a far cry from their pre-season showings.

Uxbridge had a similarly tentative start but crucially snatched a 43rd-minute lead.

Daniel Brathwaite passed laterally to Liam McDevitt and a poor touch and attempted backward pass was pounced on by Matt Woods, who slotted low past Ron Yates.

The second half began with more sparring and it took until the 57th minute for Royston to put any direct pressure on the Uxbridge goal.

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A free-kick launched into the area saw a great double reflex save from home keeper Paul McCarthy, first stopping a powerful McDevitt header before stretching to palm the ball away after it struck a team-mate.

Josh Castiglione and the returning Rob Mason, back in competitive action after a lengthy lay-off, came off the bench and their influence almost lifted Town into action.

A Watters corner was prodded goalward, only to be desperately hacked clear by a Uxbridge defender. Royston’s appeals that the ball had crossed the line fell on deaf eyes and the home side survived the scare.

That was the luck they needed as they doubled their lead.

A good through-ball found Sekani McCalmon who was clattered by onrushing keeper Yates for a clear penalty. Dave Thomas did the rest from the spot.

In a frantic final five minutes the Crows did get one back via a Watters corner, headed back across goal by Jack Bradshaw and debutant Brathwaite stooped to direct a glancing header in for his first goal.

Unfortunately, in the melee to retrieve the ball from the obstructive keeper, Bradshaw’s actions were deemed worthy of a second yellow card and he was dismissed.

Luke Henegan’s late third confirmed Uxbridge’s first win and delivered a subsequent wake-up call for Steve Castle’s men.