Sports Soundly Beaten At Royston

by Peter Scherer

Despite a consolation Andy Dales goal in the second half, Mickleover were soundly beaten on their visit to Royston Town, after three defensive blunders.

Starting line-up: 1-Lewis Ridd 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Dan Bradley 5-Will Tamen 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Will Trueman 9-Tyrell Waite 10-Wil Bapaga 11-Marcus Barnes. Subs: Oli Greaves, Stuart Beavon, Kyle Rowley, Brendon Daniels, Will Atkinson.

Mickleover were first to get a shot in when Dales had a second minute attempt blocked on the edge of the box.

But play soon switched to the other end, with a Bennett clearance giving Royston the first corner of the game. As the ball came in from the right, the defence were left flat footed and Ridd failed to move off his line, seeing the ball almost roll into the goal on his inside post from Johnson’s effort and it was 0-1 after just three minutes.

Over the next 10 to 15 minutes Mickleover continued to look vulnerable to any attack, as they struggled to break out of their own half.

Ridd handed Royston another chance when a poor free kick to Trueman put the midfielder under immediate pressure, but fortunately they weren’t able to capitalise on the opportunity.

Mickleover had one good move led by Bennett after 14 minutes. Having reached the edge of the box, a sequence of excessive passing lost the chance and the ball was cleared. 

Barnes did manage to create some space and did have a shot a minute later, just wide of the left-hand post. Bennett then attacked again down the right, set up Bapaga for the cross, which was cleared for a corner.

Wilson put his corner close into the keeper, causing Chadwick to punch the ball away under pressure.

The referee seemed to be giving an excess of free kicks, with the majority against Mickleover, but fortunately the hosts failed to create much from them. There was also a penalty shout when Esan dived into the box.

After 28 minutes there was another shot just over the bar for our hosts after Bapaga lost out in midfield. But Royston were shooting on sight, unlike Mickleover who had a more skilful build up, but failed to get a shot in on most occasions.

Apart from the sloppy early goal the back four of Bennett, Mann, Tamen and Wilson had coped with any forays into their territory, with both Bennett and Wilson trying to build the attacks down the wings.

Bapaga had started well but faded and despite Trueman’s hard work the midfield were struggling to progress.

After 30 minutes Dales put in a good cross from the left and Waite’s follow up shot was blocked, before the following corner was easily cleared.

Five minutes later a long ball out of defence by Tamen found Barnes, he tried a shot on target, but it failed to trouble Chadwick again.

For the last 10 minutes of the first half their seemed more urgency from Sports and after some nice interplay on the left between Wilson and Dales, the ball fell to Bradley, but an awkward bounce at the critical moment saw his effort go wide of the right-hand post.

Bennett and Waite both fired in shots that were blocked and then a late free kick was headed clear by Royston skipper Murray.

In time added on Waite came closest to grabbing an equaliser, when another Dales cross from the left was met beautifully by the strikers head. But Chadwick had the measure of it and tipped it over the bar, so it remained 0-1 as the whistle went.

There were no changes in the Mickleover team for the second half, but there was a flurry of attacking activity before falling back into a similar pattern to the first half.

Dales shouted for a penalty after going down in the box to a fair tackle and both Trueman and Bennett tried to battle through before their paths were blocked.

Royston had another effort just over the bar from a 56th minute corner and almost on the hour a hardworking Barnes got clear on the right. His cross came in but was straight through the box, with no one making contact.

Greaves then came on for Bapaga and was straight into the action, but his cross from the right was cleared by the defence.

A few minutes later Dales sent a crossfield ball to Bennett. His right-wing cross was met by Barnes’ head, but straight at the keeper.

Mickleover’s efforts for the equaliser were dashed after 63 minutes though, when another corner gave away another soft goal. There seemed no one taking charge in the box and Coldicott-Stevens was almost surprised that his effort struck goal. 0-2.

Barnes tried a long shot but was well wide, just before striking partner Waite was replaced by Beavon.

Despite Mickleover’s lack of cohesion, it was only two defence blunders that separated the teams and after 73 minutes they finally pulled a goal back. Greaves outran the defence on the right and his cross was met by Dales’ head at close range 1-2.

Into the final 15 minutes and there was a glimpse of the determination we have been used to and maybe a chance to get something out of the game. But the extra push forward left the back vulnerable, and after Trueman lost out in midfield, Harness was clear for Royston but shot well over the bar.

Bradley put a cross in from the right but Beavon just missed connecting after 80 minutes. Eight minutes later it was hard to see how the ball didn’t find the net for a Mickleover equaliser, after a huge scramble in the hosts goal mouth. There were players on the ground and shots reigning in, but luck was definitely on Royston’s side as Murray finally cleared Bennett shot.

From a near equaliser it was game over as Coldicott-Stevens scored his second and another easy dead ball situation goal which the defence failed to deal with, 1-3.

With eight minutes added on it was to get worse, as Williams got a break and fired home number four. Barnes tried his luck again in the final minutes and Ridd made a late diving save, but 1-4 it was.

A point looked more than achievable against a side that found success with a more basic style play. The three goal winning margin probably flattered them too, but three defensive blunders was to prove decisive as Mickleover’s fire never got beyond the smouldering stage.


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