20.11.2021

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Royston Town

Henry (1), Adams (64) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

(1) 2

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

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249

Jono Brown

L L W D D W L L L L

 

Nuneaton Borough (A) 27.11.21

It's now four defeats in a row for the Pitmen as they are beaten by fellow mid-table dwellers Royston Town this afternoon at Garden Walk whilst also being reduced to nine men in the second half

Tuesday night had seen the Pitmen beaten by table-toppers Coalville Town at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park, leaving Keenen Meakin-Richards side languishing in eighth place in the table, some six points adrift of the play-off places and dropping down into the potential obscurity of mid-table. Meakin-Richards made one change to his side for this afternoon's trip to Hertfordshire as Riley O'Sullivan was handed his first start for the club as he replaced Andre Brown up front

Royston had also suffered a reverse on Tuesday night, going down 3-0 at Coalville's title rivals Peterborough Sports to leave the Crows a point and a place behind the Pitmen at the start of play. Manager Steve Castle made four changes to his starting XI from the side that had started at Peterborough as Daniel Brathwaite, Rhamar Garrett-Douglas, Isa Rotimi and Marcus Gouldbourne came in for James Brighton, Isaac Galliford, Spyros Mentis and Matt Bateman respectively

The Pitmen's fragile confidence at the back - having conceded fourteen goals in their past six games - was immediately shaken as they conceded the game's opening goal within sixty seconds of the kick-off as Royston swept into the lead with their first attack of the game; Wes Atkinson brought down Adam Murray after he had seized upon a loose pass from Chay Tilt, allowing Scott Bridges to send over a deep cross from the left to the far post where Ronnie Henry turned the ball past Jono Brown from a couple of yards out via a deflection from Brandon Adams

Referee Mr Robertson-Tant was a busy man in the middle in a frenetic opening ten minutes, awarding several free-kicks either way as both sides got stuck in and conceded territory to the other. Carter Lycett's foul on Bridges in the eighth minute saw the midfield man swing in another dangerous-looking ball that dipped away from the incoming men in white at the far post and wide of Jono Brown's right-man post

A long, searching ball forwards from Royston centre-back Dan Newton in the thirteenth minute was headed away by Atkinson but only into the path of Adams, who was alone in space midway inside the Hednesford half. The former QPR youngster skipped past what can only be described as half-hearted challenges from both Lewis Ison and skipper Courtney Richards but pulled his low effort from the edge of the penalty area well wide of Brown's post

Neat build-up play from the Crows four minutes later saw Rotimi and Murray involved as Adams was given more room just outside the penalty area, only for Kyle Rowley to finally make the block and clear the danger for the sky-blue-clad Pitmen

A rare attack from the Pitmen saw them win a throw-in level with the Royston penalty area midway through the first half, with Atkinson launching a long throw into the Crows box that was diverted towards his own net by Ed Asafu-Adejaye, forcing goalkeeper Joe Welch into making the save to tip the ball over for a Hednesford corner kick

The Crows were still looking the most likely to add to their advantage, however, as club captain Daniel Brathwaite headed wide of goal for the hosts on twenty-six minutes after he had reached another fine free-kick from Bridges out on the left

Royston felt that they had a fair shout for a penalty kick on thirty-two minutes as Adams went down under a challenge from Rowley, only for Mr Robertson-Tant to gesture to the player to get back to his feet

Two minutes later, Asafu-Adjaye rose to meet a stood-up cross from Bridges on the left-hand corner of the penalty area and headed down towards goal, only for the alert Ison to hack the ball away a yard from goal

Murray himself wasted a glorious chance to put the home side two goals up on the thirty-seven minutes as Adams presented his strike partner with a chance on a plate. Rowley fell over as he attempted to get to a Garrett-Douglas pass, allowing Adams to run in behind him and to the byeline. His initial shot from an angle was blocked by Jono Brown but palmed straight back to the striker, who laid the ball off to Murray who was standing just inside the six-yard box, only to lift his shot over the crossbar rather than find the net. A poor miss and a massive let-off for the visitors

Another great chance fell to Adams on forty minutes as he made another powerful run in behind the hapless Hednesford defence who were looking in vain for an offside flag against the player; he took the ball around Jono Brown but was forced wide and could only turn the ball towards goal from a tight angle, with Ison again on hand to clear the danger

Shaquille Master had struggled to get into the game as he had been well shackled by Garrett-Douglas but did create an opening for himself on forty-two minutes as he won the ball from dawdling Bridges in midfield and played a quick one-two with O'Sullivan before breaking into the Royston penalty area. Welch was alert to the danger and came out of his goal to turn the ball behind for a corner kick and deny Master a shot at goal

From Reece Flanagan's resultant corner, Master picked the ball up once more and attempted to shimmy his way past Asafu-Adjaye but fired into the side-netting from a tight angle via a deflection. Flanagan's second corner was cleared as far as Lycett, who cut across the ball with his long-range effort and fired well wide from twenty yards out

In the final minute of the first half, a strong run through the centre of the Hednesford midfield from Gouldbourne saw the space open up in front of him, only for then returning midfielder to see his low goalbound shot deflected away by the boot of Rowley

The Pitmen had been largely poor during the opening forty-five minutes and had struggled to provide a response to Royston's early opener. The Crows will have been smarting at not having taken any of the good chances that they had created during the first period against as Hednesford side low on confidence and overall quality. Flanagan - who had once again struggled to make his mark on the game - was a half-time casualty as top scorer Andre Landell replaced him for the second period

The Pitmen looked brighter at the start of the second half with the more physical and direct Landell now ion the pitch; he was involved in the forty-ninth minute as he linked up with Lycett to set Master away down the left flank. The winger cut inside and let fly with a low angled drive the Welch pushed away down low to his right

The game swung very much in favour of the hosts on fifty-two minutes as the Pitmen were reduced to ten men. Richards brought down Murray in midfield, with the referee awarding Royston a free-kick. Atkinson and Tilt both had something to say to Mr Robertson-Tant about the decision, culminating in the official sending Tilt off for dissent

The Pitmen had been reliant on set-pieces against Coalville to get themselves back into the game and this was to prove the case once more as another Atkinson long throw on fifty-five minutes was flicked on by Rowley at the near post, but cleared the crossbar from six yards out

At the other end, Brathwaite fired high and wide of the Hednesford goal on fifty-nine minutes after the ball had rebounded into his path following a Bridges free-kick on the halfway line

The Pitmen made a double substitution on sixty-three minutes as the ineffective O'Sullivan was replaced by Andre Brown up front and defender Josh Endall came on for Master. This saw Lycett move further forwards down the left as the away side reverted to a 5-3-1-1 formation with Landell playing behind Andre Brown

However, Endall's game was to prove extremely short as his appearance was to last all of sixty seconds; Bridges sent over another fine free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area, striking the arm of the substitute as he looked to clear the ball away from Murray. The referee awarded the hosts a penalty kick for the handball, which incensed Endall and led to a mouthful of verbal abuse from the defender at the referee. Having seen the punishment handed out to Tilt a few minutes earlier, it should have come as little to surprise to the former Stafford Rangers man that he was also shown a red card for foul and abusive language

Adams spotted the ball and fired low to Jono Brown's left-hand side to find the bottom corner of the net and double Royston's advantage, leaving the nine-man Pitmen with a mountain to climb

The hosts could afford to relax and take the extra touch with a two-man advantage, keeping the ball away from the hapless visitors who were now having to cover more distance to chase the ball down. Murray was once again wasteful for the Crows with twenty-one minutes of play remaining as he picked up a pass from Garrett-Douglas but got his laces underneath the shot from fully thirty yards out and lashed his effort over the crossbar

Rotimi fired over for the hosts with fifteen minutes to go, before goalscorer Henry was given a warm ovation by the home supporters as he was replaced by Fred Brown for the remainder of the game

More patient build-up play from the hosts on eighty minutes saw Bridges, Brathwaite and Gouldbourne all involved to set up substitute Brown, only for the midfielder to fire wide with a long-range effort from just outside the Hednesford 'D'

The visitors were simply in damage limitation mode at this point as they closed ranks to limit the score to just two goals for Royston; slack defending from the men in blue on eighty-one minutes saw Rotimi pick the ball up and fire in a low shot that was deflected just wide of the near post by the boot of Ison

Adams was also denied by a last-ditch deflection on eighty-four minutes as substitute Finlay Titchmarsh broke down the right and pulled the ball back into the path of the striker, whose shot came off the heel of Rowley and was deflected behind for another Royston corner kick

Sloppy play from Todd Parker two minutes later allowed Fred Brown to win the ball and play Titchmarsh into space down the right once more. His low cross found Adams, who turned on a sixpence and fired in a shot at goal that Jono Brown did brilliantly to save with his legs

Brown kept Adams out one last time in added time, making another fine smothering save low down to his left to push the striker's goal-bound shot away from the corner of the net

It had been another sobering afternoon for the Pitmen and their supporters, having been solidly second best for the whole game and paying a heavy price for a lack of discipline in the second half to allow Royston to win at a canter. The alarming regular shipping of goals remains a significant worry, with the added concern of two successive games without a goal and, put frankly, the Pitmen not looking likely to score one in either game this week. The tough games continue to come thick and fast as they travel to another unhappy hunting ground next weekend when they make the short hop down the A5 to face local rivals Nuneaton Borough at Liberty Way

Royston Town: Welch, Garrett-Douglas, Brathwaite, Newton, Henry (F. Brown 75), Bridges, Gouldbourne, Asafu-Adjaye, Rotimi, Murray © (Titchmarsh 82), Adams       Subs Unused: Galliford, Williams

Hednesford Town: J. Brown, Atkinson, Lycett, Rowley, Ison, Richards ©, Tilt   (52), Parker, O'Sullivan (A. Brown 63), Flanagan (Landell 45), Master (Endall 63  (64))      Subs Unused: Soleman, Clarkson