Young double seals opening-day win

Crows get season off to perfect start

Royston Town 4-2 Harefield United

ROYSTON Town got their league campaign off to the best possible start with a deserved win over Harefield United on Saturday.

Overall this was a game Royston should have won at a canter but for some defensive naivety which always kept Harefield in the game but nonetheless Paul Attfield’s side produced some exciting football throughout.

The Crows dominated from the start and they took the lead after 15 minutes when Ryan Lockett converted a penalty after full-back Ashley Grinham was upended in the box.

Their joy was very short-lived, though, as Harefield equalised 30 seconds after the restart following a mix-up between goalkeeper Jorden Gibson and Grinham, allowing the visiting striker to roll the ball into the empty net.

This didn’t knock the hosts and they continued to exert good pressure with some fluent football. The lead was retaken on 30 minutes when Lockett’s free kick took a couple of deflections before landing at Ricky Young’s feet who swept the ball in from eight yards.

Most Read

The lead was extended further just three minutes later when Lockett’s cross was superbly volleyed into the net by Young from 12 yards. The Royston player could have completed a first half hat-trick when he beat the offside trap but his tame effort was gathered easily by the ‘keeper.

With a healthy lead a positive start to the second half could have seen the hosts gain a complete stranglehold of the game but in the opening minutes they allowed Harefield their best period of the game. Within two minutes poor possession and shut-down play ended with a foul right on the edge of the area with the resulting free kick easily beating the wall and Gibson’s dive into the corner.

Royston began to win back the initiative despite the setback and Tom Whitaker started and finished a good team move to convert a chance from close range on 60 minutes to restore a two-goal cushion.

Amazingly, Royston nearly conceded another goal within 30 seconds of the restart when United were awarded a penalty after John McGrandles had handled. However Gibson guessed right to save the spot-kick and maintain his team’s advantage.

Royston went on to create enough clear chances to completely trounce their opponents in the remaining time with Jason Beck, Matt Standen, Tom Malins and Young all narrowly missing the target without working the goalkeeper.

Manager Attfield was pleased with his side’s display and said: “First league games are never easy as you switch from uncompetitive games to competitive but the performance was pretty decent from the team. Our fluency on the ball and creativity was of a high standard throughout but we should have worked the goalkeeper on far more occasions.

“Unfortunately, through our own doing, we kept Harefield in the game due to lapses of concentration and while it’s been difficult to get a settled back-line due to injuries and absentees, we must become more solid and very quickly.”

Royston Town: Gibson, Whitaker (Matt Standen), Grinham, (Fehmi), McGrandles, Endacott, Martin Standen (Edwards), Collins, Malins, Beck, Lockett, Young.

Subs not used: Bradshaw, O’Brien.