Match deleted from records in MaY 2020 after 2019-2020 season voided due to coronavirus


BetVictor Southern Premier League Central

Royston Town

Warner-Eley (90)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

(0) 0



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Ben Bailey



Peterborough Sports (H) 25.2.20

A late, late goal for play-off chasers Royston cruelly denied the Pitmen a richly-deserved point this afternoon at Garden Walk, handing the visitors their fifth successive league defeat to leave them floundering in fourteenth place in the league table

An enforced break of a fortnight due to the recent poor weather had seen Hednesford's interim management team continue to make changes to their squad; Reece King had followed former manager Gary Hayward to Buxton, with the Pitmen moving to bring back the adaptable Rhys Thompson from a spell at Kidsgrove Athletic. Jed Davies had returned to the club following a spell at Stafford Rangers and there was also been a switch between the posts, as former loanee Andy Wycherley returned to the club last week on a new loan deal until the end of season from his new club Solihull Moors, switching places with fellow Moors keeper Shaun Rowley after his loan spell at Keys Park had come to an end. Both Thompson and Wycherley came in  for this afternoon's game in two of four changes, the other two seeing Danny Glover and Elliot Hodge return to the side at the expense of of Fry and Tom Hewlett

Royston had proved a tough nut to crack for most teams this season, sitting in a play-off place at the start of play courtesy of a fine run of form that had seen Steve Castle's team lose two only league games since October. They were also still in the F.A. Trophy, having beaten step two sides Chester and Ebbsfleet United in a run to the fourth round, where they will face Concord Rangers in a week's time

It was the Pitmen's first ever visit to Garden Walk, looking to complete a league double over Royston following a fine 4-1 win at Keys Park back in September. They started well, with Glover and Dan Sweeney developing an immediate understanding up front as they created issues for the Royston defence. A long throw from Ben Bailey in the fourth minute was met at the near post by the returning Callam Mendez-Jones, only for his goal bound flick-on to be hacked clear of goal by Royston skipper Dan Braithwaite

Three minutes later, the Pitmen went close to opening the scoring from an inswinging Hodge corner kick as he found the head of Sweeney, only for Braithwaite to once again be in the right place at the right time and clear off the line

Bailey - struggling in recent weeks with his form - was back to his commanding best in the centre of defence for the away side, keeping things simple with a more direct approach to the game as he confidently dealt with a limited Crows attack in the opening quarter of the game

The closest Royston came to anything resembling an effort in the first twenty minutes came through a Scott Bridges free-kick that was blocked and subsequently cleared by Bailey in the nineteenth minute as the hosts struggled to get a foothold in the game

A neat passage of play from the Pitmen on twenty-six minutes saw Jack Hallahan link up well with O'Hanlon before Sweeney played a delightful reverse pass into the path of Glover, who had got goal side of Braithwaite for the first time in the afternoon. However, the through ball a touch too heavy for Hednesford's top scorer and Royston keeper Joe Welch made a smothering save

The home side were limited to set-pieces for their best openings, forcing three successive corner kicks on the half-hour mark without truly testing Wycherley, who picked up where he left off in January by confidently dealing with the aerial threat inside his own penalty area

The referee failed to endear himself to the travelling supporters on the half-hour mark, as he handed a drop ball back to Royston after the Pitmen had created a opening through Hodge before the referee stopped the game for an accidental clash between Hallahan and Thompson. It was a mystifying decision at not the last one of the afternoon from Mr. Danaher either way

Bridges was again wasteful with a free-kick in a dangerous position for Royston on thirty-five minutes, tamely firing high over the crossbar after Mendez-Jones had conceded a free-kick just outside the Hednesford penalty area

At the other end, O'Hanlon showed Bridges how it was supposed to be done four minutes later as his curving shot from a free-kick narrowly missed the top corner of the net with Welch scrambling across his goal to get to the shot

The hosts finished the half with another late flurry of corner kicks, but again found Thompson, Mendez-Jones and Wycherley all in fine form to deny them a clear shot at goal ahead of the break

The Pitmen could be happy with their efforts in the first-half, as they had contained the hosts well and produced a disciplined defensive display, albeit with limited success going forwards

The Crows were forced into a half-time substitution as Adam Watkins was taken off and replaced by Ed Asafu-Adjaye in midfield. They started on the front foot after the game restarted as Josh Castiglione trying his luck from long range with a bouncing, bobbling shot that Wycherley easily fielded

Two minutes later, right-back Gus Scott-Morriss made a run forward to latch onto a through ball, but lashed his shot well, well wide of goal from a promising position on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

The game became scrappy for a spell midway through the half, as both sides saw players booked for niggly fouls and chances came at a premium as neither side could muster up enough nous to break the other down in a pretty evenly-matched encounter. The Pitmen were incensed at only a yellow card being shown to Scott Morriss on sixty-one minutes for what appeared to be an elbow in Hallahan, but again the referee failed to apply common sense or the rules and made another head-scratching decision

A free-kick from Bridges gave the Pitmen some issues on sixty-eight minutes after a foul by Hallahan on Castiglione, with Mende-Jones turning the shot around the post for a corner kick to the hosts

The home side started to play on the front foot as the game entered the final twenty minutes, playing ten yards further forwards and forcing more and more set-pieces out of the retreating Pitmen. The excellent Thompson turned a shot from Luke Warner-Eley behind for a corner kick on seventy-four minutes, followed by another wild effort from Scott-Morriss after the Pitmen had failed to clear a corner kick effectively

As the game entered the final ten minutes, both sides had chances to settle the game in their favour. Sweeney forced Welch into a fantastic save at his neat post on eighty minutes after he had unleashed a shot form the edge of the Royston penalty area, only for Welch to come up with a brilliant one-handed save to turn the ball away from goal

At the other end, Bailey was again demonstrating his man of the match credentials with another superb blocking tackle to deny the anonymous Matt Bateman just inside the Hednesford penalty area

With five minutes remaining, Davies was handed a third Hednesford debut by Dean Glover as he came on in place of Hodge, a move that proved unpopular with the travelling supporters as Hodge had been one of the Pitmen's few players who had looked capable of creating a clear-cut opening all afternoon

Davies was to be a major part in the one moment that mattered in the game as ninety minutes ticked by; he picked up the ball and attempted to get past Asafu-Adjaye, only to take a tumble just outside the Royston penalty area. The referee felt the Davies had gone over on his own steam and played on, which allowed Royston to break quickly down the right. Bailey brought down Castiglione just outside the Hednesford penalty area as the pair challenged for a high ball which allowed Warner-Eley to place the ball down to the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. With nearly the last kick of the game, the left-back produced the one moment of quality all afternoon as his dispatched brilliant free-kick beyond the reach of Wycherley and finding the top far corner of the net for the match-winning goal

There was no time for the Pitmen to get themselves back into the game, the condemning them to a fifth successive defeat in sickening circumstances as Royston earned all three points to cement their place amongst the play-off chasers. It had, however, been a much improved performance from the away side, showing far more togetherness and spirit than they had done in previous weeks; Thompson had shown his worth with a fine debut performance, whilst the understanding between Sweeney and Glover was another positive for the away side. Another tough test follows on Tuesday night as the free-scoring Peterborough Sports make a first-ever trip to Keys Park looking to take top spot in the Southern Premier League Central with a win

Royston Town: Welch, Scott-Morriss , Warner-Eley , Bridges, Parr, Braithwaite ©, Castiglione, Watkins (Asafu-Adjaye 45), Adams (Ofosu 69), Bateman, Green (Martin 80)      Subs Unused: Brighton, Smart

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Griffiths, O'Hanlon, Bailey ©, Mendez-Jones, Hallahan, Hodge (Davies 85), Thompson, Glover , Sweeney, Abadaki    Subs Unused: Hewlett, Gatter, Reid, Veiga

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