In this fixture last year, the crows found themselves at the wrong end of a 10-1 thrashing. In a game that lacked intensity, composure and resilience the crows deserved what they got.
This year was different. The game plan was set. Royston would look to suffocate and frustrate the Stevenage attack, whilst aiming to breakaway and steal some goals on the counter.
Stevenage were weighed, measured and found wanting as the plan came to fruition beautifully. Right from the word go, the Crows brought the intensity needed as Stevenage were unable to build any clear cut opportunities before Royston broke away and won the first short corner of the game. James 'Moose' Biddlecombe stepped up for the resulting drag flick that the keeper was only able to parry into the path of Robert Woodhouse who made no mistake in burying it into the bottom corner.
Encouraged by the opening exchanges, Royston continued to show their grit as they continued to scupper the Stevenage assault time and again. Big contributions were made by the entire Royston team, they conceded fouls high up the pitch where needed to prevent any rhythm from building, whilst maintaining stalwart in discipline at the back. The aggression Royston showed tipped slightly over as Moose saw yellow for a cynical tackle from behind at the halfway point before Woodhouse then saw Green towards the hour mark.
Whilst defending brilliantly, Royston continued to look dangerous on the counter with a few efforts narrowly letting Stevenage off, notably a tomahawk effort from Woodhouse finding the near side netting next to the top corner. With just 5 minutes left in the game David Evans was able to spring on to a poor touch at the back from Stevenage before driving into the D and letting fly into the top half of the net, leaving the keeper for dead.
The result could have been different if it was not for Stevenage wasting upwards of 10 short corners throughout the game, their only consolation coming with 2 minutes left on the clock where a goalmouth scrap eventually led to the breakthrough, but it wasn't enough. It was Royston's day.
It feels wrong to award the player of the match award to any single player but for his showing some excellent discipline throughout and for snatching the vital winner. MOTM goes to David Evans and DOTD to Jake Gourd, for letting tempers fly after the fall time whistle.
COME ON YOU CROWS. GET IN.