Title-chasing Royston Town defeat Aylesbury to set up grandstand final day of the season

Simon Thomas on the ball. Picture: David Hatton

Simon Thomas on the ball. Picture: David Hatton - Credit: Archant

Royston Town gave themselves a fighting chance of stealing the Southern League Division One Central title from under the noses of Kings Langley as they beat Aylesbury 3-2 last night (Thursday).

Needing a victory to make sure the title race goes to the final day of the season tomorrow (Saturday), Steve Castle’s men now know that victory over third placed Egham Town at Garden Walk and dropped points for current leaders King Langley at Petersfield Town will crown the Crows champions.

It was a poor showing for the first period of this game as the Crows struggled to get any cohesive momentum and this disarray was punished on nine minutes when Gareth Price finished well from a low left-wing cross for 1-0.

Ryan Ingrey’s work rate and endeavour throughout this sub-standard period were the only bright spot for Town and he found himself targeted for some industrial tackles that the referee chose to manage rather than punish.

Following the Moles’ goal, Royston dug deep to improve their play and there were certainly forward movement but there were also worrying breaks from the home side that threatened to increase their advantage.

On 35 minutes, and following one of many spoiling fouls by the Moles’ end-of-season defending, Scott Bridges delivered a hanging cross that drew home keeper, James Weatherill, out of goal. Simon Thomas got his head to the ball first and his looping connection fell almost in slow motion to giant central defender Ryan Frater to sidefoot home into an unguarded net from five yards out.

In a much improved period of play from the visitors, it was however the hosts who had the better opportunity to take a lead into the break. Another left-wing run and cross led to a shot being blazed over the bar.

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After a much better showing from Royston in the early stages of the second half, moments before the hour mark they got ahead.

Ryan Towner spotted an opening 25 yards out and his shot flew through a raft of bodies, bobbling past Weatherill on its way in.

Two minutes later it was three. Speedster Rhys Hoenes raced into the box and received a hefty shove that sent him down.

The referee awarded a penalty and Bridges cast aside his spot-kick miss in the last match and powered the ball in with zeal.

Castle immediately used this two-goal advantage to rest players with an eye on Saturday and swapped Thomas and Chris Watters for Rob Mason and Danny May and eight minutes later replaced Hoenes for youngster Josh Castiglione.

With the Moles trying to provoke a reaction from a few of the Royston players with unnecessary off-the-ball afters and continuous griping at the officials, the Crows’ efforts to see out this game was set back on 90 minutes. Following their only meaningful second-half attack via a speedy breakaway, Brian Haule put the ball home.

This brought on a nervous period of injury-time, including a dangerous free-kick just outside the box that was conceded in mild panic, but stand in Crows keeper, Mayson Tewkesbury, did well to tip over the sharp, dipping on-target effort. The final whistle brought respite and Royston bagged the maximum points.