Following Tuesday's win against St Ives Town and with Stourbridge the visitors on Tuesday night, Hednesford were looking to achieve their highest league finish since relegation from the National League North in 2016. Non League Day was celebrated by providing a free drink to every supporter from both clubs in attendance.
Hednesford and Royston were tied on 44 points after 33 games at the start of the day, with the Crows in eighth place courtesy of a superior goal difference. Recent league form has been broadly even, although Royston will be taking a two goal lead into the second leg of the League Cup against Taunton Town on Tuesday night. When the two sides met at Garden Walk in November, Royston ran out 2-0 winners over the Pitmen who were reduced to nine men.
The visitors started with intent, Brooklyn Ilunga had blazed over in the fourth minute before a cross from the left was tucked away by Brandon Adams from eight yards out. The game became quite scrappy despite the intense opening tempo with the Pitmen struggling to create chances, while Royston were efficient and strong across the park. George Cater and Chay Tilt created some pressure on the wings before the Pitmen were forced into an early substitution when Luke Ward was injured and replaced by Harvey Portman. Ilunga could have stretched the lead before the break shooting over from a good opening before half time.
Both sides exchanged a series of corners without adding to the scoreline. In the 62nd minute a cross from the right was met by Matthew Bateman who headed past Oliver Basey to double the Crows lead. The Pitmen's afternoon got worse, losing skipper Lewis Ison to injury.
The Pitmen finally had an opening when Dimitrios Kyriatzis parried Cater's effort with Tilt shooting wide from the rebound. The Royston keeper made another couple of saves from Riley O'Sullivan and Cater on an afternoon when the Pitmen were not strong enough to match the robust pressing game of the visitors.
Hednesford Town; Basey, Hayden, Lycett, Ward (Portman 26'), Ison (Smith 72), Flanagan, Tilt, Parker, O'Sullivan, Bennett (Zohore 59), Cater. Subs not used; Webb, Williams.
Royston Town; Kyriatzis, Henry, Mensah, Asafu-Adjaye (Newman 71), Braithwaite (Murray 58), Brighton, Ilunga, Adams, Aransibia (Rotimi 67), Bateman, Newton. Subs not used; Titchmarsh, Welch.