Hednesford Town made the 114 mile trip to Hertfordshire looking to keep their three match unbeaten run going against tenth placed Royston Town. Ben Kaninda returned to the starting line-up in place of Harvey Portman, who dropped to the bench in an otherwise unchanged starting eleven from the 2-2 draw with Ilkeston Town on Tuesday.
A cagey start saw little in the way of goal scoring opportunities during the first half hour; Luke Jackson made a comfortable save from Royston skipper Adam Murray, while at the other end Dimi Kyriatzis gathered in an inviting cross to end a spell of Hednesford pressure. A decent run from Ky Marsh-Brown set up Alfie Williams whose shot was well saved by Jackson, who was called into action a minute later to prevent Marsh-Brown from giving the home side the lead. The home side continued to apply the pressure with Nathan Tshikuna shooting wide and Murray forcing a scrambled clearance from a flick to the far post. Tshikuna had another chance to open the scoring but was thwarted again by Jackson, the ball rebounded to Mathew Bateman whose effort was blocked by the Hednesford defence. The Pitmen had time to fire a freekick over the bar before the halftime break.
The Pitmen’s sterling efforts in the first half were undone during the second period, Bateman had already hit the post before Royston finally broke through in the 60th minute in dramatic circumstances. Murray rounded Jackson who hauled down the Royston player conceding both a red card and a penalty. Rhys Williams replaced Chay Tilt to face the penalty which was tucked away by Bateman. Royston doubled their lead within two minutes with Bateman claiming his brace, heading past Williams from Tshikuna’s cross. A raft of substitutions from both sides disrupted the flow of the game before stand-in keeper Williams denied Bateman his hat trick making a great save from the Royston dangerman. There would be no further goals as Royston saw out the four minutes of added time to end the Pitmen’s three match unbeaten run.
Royston Town; Kyriatzis, Dasilva, Brighton (Harness 62), Townsend-West, Murray, Henry, Tshikuna (Bell-Toxtle 78), Hoddle, Bateman, Williams, Marsh-Brown (Castle 68). Subs; Forde, Turner.
Hednesford Town; Jackson, Yeomans, Morley, Agustein (McQuilkin 78), Kaninda, Patterson, Thorley (Asomugha 72), Parker, Graham, Brogan, Tilt (Williams 61). Subs; Glover, Portman.