Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Royston Town

Williams (13), Edwards (25) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Turner (23) (penalty)

(2) 2

(1) 1



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Dan Turner



Bromsgrove Sporting (H) 27.10.20

Hednesford suffer their second 2-1 reverse in a row this afternoon as they crash to defeat at fellow strugglers Royston Town, with all of the goals coming in the first period of the game

Last week's defeat at Rushden & Diamonds had seen the Pitmen sink back into the bottom three of the table in the process, still with only four points on the board from their first five league games. Interim manager Keenen Meakin-Richards made two changes to the side that has started at Hayden Road last Saturday with Kyle Rowley and Reece Flanagan handed their first starts after arriving at the club a couple of weeks ago in place of Sam Griffiths and Danny Glover. Striker Anthony Dwyer had to be content with a place on the bench after re-signing for the club in midweek from league rivals Stourbridge. Midfielder Jed Davies was also amongst the substitutes after he had recovered from injury

Royston - play-off contenders last season until the league campaign was curtailed - had made a slow start to this season's campaign and sat only one place and one point ahead of their visitors ahead of today's game. Manager Steve Castle also made changes to his side from their previous game - a 1-1 draw at Tamworth as keeper Joe Welch and Jon Edwards replaced Harry Smart and Josh Castiglione respectively

It was an overcast afternoon in Hertfordshire, with intermittent drizzle crossing over the Garden Walk pitch during the afternoon's entertainment. Royston tested the reflexes of on-loan keeper Cameron Gregory in the sixth minute as he made a superb smothering dive at the far post to deny Edwards from point-blank range following a deep cross from Josh Williams

The Pitmen looked nervous at the back during the opening stages of the game as they allowed Royston to have plenty of the early possession in front of them. The home side's early pressure finally told in the thirteenth minute as they took the lead after a break down the right-wing saw Ed Asafu-Adjaye cross for Isaac Galliford, whose lay-off to Brandon Adams saw the striker's low shot blocked by Rowley. However, the ball ran kindly to Williams, who slotted home the rebound from close range to give the Crows the lead

Back came the Pitmen, who were denied an equaliser in the seventeenth minute through a wonderful reaction save from Welch; Carter Lycett's low cross found Dan Turner lurking at the near post, only for the Royston keeper to make a superb reaction stop from point-blank range to turn the striker's effort over the crossbar for a corner kick

The Pitmen did, however, get themselves back into contention midway through the first period as they were awarded a penalty kick after Turner's run and cross was handled in the penalty area by Asafu-Adjaye. Turner himself took responsibility for the penalty kick in the absence of regular taker Glover and confidently fired past Welch from twelve yards to level matters once kore

The fast pace of the game continued as Royston went straight up the other end of the pitch to earn themselves a penalty kick of their own just two minutes later. A quick break down the centre of the pitch from the hosts caught the Pitmen flat-footed, culminating in Adams being brought down by Rowley in the penalty area as he shaped to shoot. Edwards spotted up the resultant kick and sent Gregory the wrong way to restore the home side's lead

The Hednesford defence continued to live dangerously as Royston pressed and somehow avoided conceding a third goal on twenty-seven minutes as Mendez-Jones lost the ball cheaply to Williams down the right, whose low cross was turned goalwards by Adams at the near post with a toe-poked effort. Somehow, a combination of Gregory and Rowley, plus a shocking miss from Edwards, saw the ball scrambled off the line and away from danger

Two minutes later, Royston worked the ball well down the left-wing and across the face of the Hednesford penalty area to Galliford, whose low drive skipped past the far post from eighteen yards out

Gregory was again called upon to rescue his side on thirty-one minutes, making a good save down by his feet to deny Gus Scott-Morriss after a corner kick had been partially cleared into the path of the midfielder who was lurking on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

Two minutes later, Gregory was again alert to the danger as he plucked a header from skipper Taylor Parr out of the air after he had got to a Scott-Morriss free-kick ten yards from goal

The best the Pitmen could produce in an underwhelming first-half display was an off-target header from Rowley on forty minutes that clearly deflected off the head of Royston defender Adam Murray, only for the referee Mr List to award Royston a goal kick. It was not to be the official's final bad decision of the day as discovered later on in the game

As the first-half entered its final moments, Royston had a double chance to put the game beyond their under-performing visitors as Adams laid the ball off to James Brighton in the final minute of the half, only to head the left-back's return ball into the area hight over the crossbar from a good position

In the second minute of added time, Adams was again the provider as he played the ball through into the path of Scott-Morriss, only for Gregory to make another regulation save standing int he centre of his goal to block the low shot

The Pitmen had been a solid second best in the first period, allowing a sprightly Royston side to exploit the indecision that ran through this current Hednesford team at will and create openings in and around the Hednesford penalty area

After a half-time dressing down from Meakin-Richards, the away side looked a far more competitive outfit in the second half and went agonisingly close to equalising once more in the forty-ninth minute; Sweeney's cross from the right was headed away, but only as far as the ever-lively Turner, whose angled shot forced Welch into a brilliant save at his near post. The ball sat up nicely for Allen at the far post to head into the empty net, but the Forest Green Rovers loanee somehow glanced his effort wide of the post with the goal at his mercy. A poor miss

Lycett had looked bright and breezy down the left for the Pitmen all afternoon and sent over a delightful cross in the fifty-third minute that was just begging to be turned in by anyone in neon yellow, only for the ball to bounce harmlessly wide of the far post

The Pitmen were denied a goal on fifty-seven minutes as a cross was turned goalwards by Louis Dodds, only for Brighton to clear off the line for the home side 

Two minutes later, a cross from the right from Royston fell to Williams, who was denied a second goal of the afternoon by Mendez-Jones's timely goal-line clearance

With sixty-three minutes on the clock, Royston were again denied by some last-ditch defending from the Pitmen as Rowley deflected a goalbound header from the giant Murray away from goal following a corner kick from the right that had been met by the Crows centre-back

Welch denied Turner once more on sixty-eight minutes, making a good save low down to his left to hold the striker's curling effort although it was definitely a catch for cameras as the keeper threw himself into what was a fairly simple stop

The Pitmen's first change of the afternoon came with twenty minutes of the game remaining, as Dwyer was introduced to offer a different option to the team as he replaced Allen

With fourteen minutes remaining, the disappointing Flanagan was replaced by Davies as the Pitmen looked to add a more direct creative spark to their misfiring midfield

Williams dragged a shot well wide of goal for the home side on seventy-eight minutes after a scramble inside the Hednesford penalty area saw the ball break to the forward, only for the scorer of the afternoon's opener to waste a good chance by pulling his effort wide of the target

On eighty minutes, the visitors made their third and final change of the afternoon as George Cater came on in place of Dodds in a move that saw Dwyer dropped into a more central role behind the strikers

Welch made another superb stop to keep his side in front three minutes later, pushing a curling free-kick from Davies away from his goal as the ball headed towards the corner of the net

The Pitmen pressed high up the pitch in the final minutes of the game, looking to force home an equaliser. In the final minute of the game, they were denied a chance to grab a leveller as a blatant infringement in the Royston penalty area was not spotted by Mr List; Davies's inswinging corner from the right flank was aimed towards Rowley at the far post, only for an outstretched arm from Murray to divert the ball away from the Hednesford centre-back's head. Incredibly, the referee failed to see the handball and awarded Royston a goal kick, despite passionate protests from both Hednesford's players and bench. Racked with indecision and clearly rattled, the referee took a moment to consult with his official on the far side but still failed to award the Pitmen a spot-kick

Despite their late rally, the Pitmen could not rescue a point from a game that they had been chasing for all of the second period after an indifferent first-half display. Meakin-Richards and his players will feel hard done by at the failure of the referee to award them the late spot-kick but left themselves with too much to do after a poor defensive display in the first half. The tough games continue to come thick and fast as they play host to Bromsgrove Sporting on Tuesday night at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park

Royston Town: Welch, Asafu-Adjaye, Brighton, Bridges, Murray, Parr © (Newton 37), Scott-Morriss, Williams, Edwards (Cully 69), Adams, Galliford (Rotimi 65)     Subs Unused: Green, Newman

Hednesford Town: Gregory, Mendez-Jones, Lycett, Bailey ©, Rowley, Flanagan (Davies 76), Allen (Dwyer 70), Hallahan, Sweeney , Dodds (Cater 80), Turner        Sub Unused: Glover, Veiga

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