Royston Town 6 Petersfield Town 0: A HARSH-looking red card handed to Petersfield defender Harry Giles ruined any chance of the Rams’ trip to league leaders Royston being a decent contest.
Up until the 37th minute, when Giles was given his marching orders by referee Christopher O’Donnell, the game had been a fairly open, evenly contested affair, with the home side having the better of the chances but the visitors looked menacing on the break.
But with the Rams reduced to ten men they were never going to be able to keep pace with their more powerful opponents and they could have fallen to a much bigger defeat had the home side not made three substitutions and eased off the attacking gas from the hour mark onwards.
Petersfield gave a good account of themselves early on, with four players in the starting line-up making their debuts – goalkeeper Lewis Watch, defender Luke Edwards and midfielders Zondiwe Chunga and William Codling.
The visitors had to ride their luck a little at the back as the home side had plenty of half chances in the opening exchanges but the Rams went close on a few occasions to getting in behind the home defence – if their final passes had been better they may well have created some decent goalscoring opportunities.
Royston took the lead on 22 minutes when a mistake in midfield allowed Matt Nolan to pick up the ball and after taking the ball forward, he drew Watch off his line before sliding home his shot into the far corner of the net.
Four minutes later Petersfield went close to equalising when Adam Cripps fed the ball to Max Smith out on the right. He cut inside along the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a shot which curled just wide of the goal.
Giles was then shown the red card in his first game back from suspension after receiving a red card against Beaconsfield SYCOB on December 17. He clearly appeared to win the ball as he slid in to stop Josh Castiglione racing into the penalty area.
The ball had almost rolled back towards Watch by the time the Royston winger had fallen to the floor but the referee deemed that the Rams defender had fouled him and denied a goalscoring opportunity – a decision which even the home support didn’t agree with.
After that Royston threatened to run riot and they went 2-0 up two minutes before half time when Martel Powell’s shot deflected up on to the crossbar but Nolan reacted quickest to send the ball into the net with a diving header.
Nolan completed his hat-trick two minutes after the re-start when he chipped the ball over Watch and into the net and two minutes later it was 4-0 when Scott Bridges fired the ball low into the net from the edge of the penalty area.
It was 5-0 on 59 minutes when substitute Rod Orlando-Young raced away down the left hand side, cut into the penalty area before firing his shot into the net off the inside of the post.
The goalscoring was completed two minutes later when the ball was worked into the penalty area from the right and Nolan hit the post with his first shot but he again reacted quickest to the rebound to knock the ball over the line from close range.
Petersfield’s day was summed up by the best chance they had of scoring in the match. The penalty they won when substitute Chigozie Agwuegbo tumbled over in the box looked as harsh as the red card decision.
But Agwuegbo’s spot kick was easily saved by home keeper Joe Welch when he scooped away an attempt to dink the ball over his dive to his left.
Petersfield: Watch, Giles, Graham, Chunga (Agwuegbo), Edwards, Cripps, Codling, Green, Andrews, Connor, Smith. Sub not used: Best.