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Stourbridge 2 Royston town 1 - Report and pictures

By Matt Maher | Stourbridge FC | Published:

Callum Powell's controversial late winner earned Stourbridge a fifth win on the spin in a fiery encounter with Royston Town.

Powell fired home brilliantly with just three minutes remaining after visiting defender Jordan Neville-Williams appeared to be fouled.

Royston boss Steve Castle was sent-off for his protests and then became involved in a row with a home supporters as tempers boiled over at the War Memorial.

Chris Assombalonga had earlier cancelled out Robbie Thompson-Brown's opener for the hosts.

Analysis

Victory lifted Stour up to third in the Evo-Stik Premier Central Division, ahead of Monday night's home game with Bedworth.

But that tells nowhere near the full story of a game where referee Robert Hathaway and his assistants were never far from the action.

Royston saw two goals ruled out in the opening half, before tempers boiled over in the second period.

They reached their peak with Powell's winner. Norvell-Williams appeared to be tripped by Luke Benbow deep in his own half, with Powell promptly picking up the ball, advancing into the box and finishing superbly.

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That proved too much for Castle, who having been dismissed became embroiled in ugly scenes with the home crowd on his way off the pitch.

Hathaway was on hand to rule out an effort for the visitors, helped into the net by the hand of Sam Corcoran, before waving away Stour appeals for a penalty when Powell's cross thudded into the arms of James Potton, all inside the opening four minutes.

Despite the early excitement, the difficulties created by the conditions quickly became clear, a Benbow free-kick, which almost went into orbit despite the striker applying the minimum of power, being a prime example.

The striker would have the first clear cut chance of the afternoon. Luke Broadhurst's clever through ball allowed him to burst clear of the defence but his shot, from the left-hand side of the box, rolled wide of the far post.

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Stour were then a little fortunate to escape when Corcoran's cross from the left fell perfectly for Potton in the box. The midfielder's surprise at finding himself unmarked and just eight yards from goal may have contributed to a finish hit weakly straight at keeper James Wren.

It was the visitors, however, who were beginning to knock the ball around with more confidence.

Assombalonga, the brother of Middlesbrough striker Britt, headed wide and then thought he had opened the scoring when he glanced home Corcoran's superbly struck free-kick. But for the second time in the half, the goal was chalked off, this time for offside.

The visitors went close again when skipper Dan Brathwaite's goalbound header was kept out by a combination of Wren and Darryl Westlake.

But then, with just seconds remaining until the break, it was Stour who took the lead with a rare piece of incisive play. Benbow's reverse pass found Thompson-Brown, who beat his man before lifting a finish over the onrushing Joe Welch.

The pair almost combined for a second just moments after the break. This time it was Benbow with the chance but his header from Thompson-Brown's cross flew just wide.

His confidence clearly soaring, Thompson-Brown then went close with a fiercely struck shot just off target.

Yet just when Stour appeared to be in control, they gifted the visitors a route back into the game.

There was, admittedly, no little controversy over the free-kick referee Hathaway decided to award Royston 25 yards from goal, having witnessed Paul McCone commit an infringement missed by everyone else in the ground.

But Corcoran's effort was struck straight at Wren, who promptly fumbled the ball right into the path of Assombalonga, who made no mistake from six yards out.

It was a clear mistake from the keeper, though he made slight amends for it shortly afterward when he palmed away another Corcoran free-kick as the wind picked up again.

Tempers were also on the rise. Assombalonga was booked for his part in a scuffle sparked by what looked like a reckless Spyros Mentis challenge.

Corcoran, booked for his early handball, was then lucky to escape a second when he needlessly tripped Stour substitute Aris Christophorou.

Thompson-Brown twice fired off target as Stour pushed forward inside the closing 15 minutes.

Then, with three minutes to go, came the most controversial moment yet. There was no question over the brilliance of Powell's finish with the outside of his foot, having picked up the ball on the right wing and raced into the box. But there certainly was over the build-up, with Royston convinced Jordan Norvell-Williams had been fouled in the build-up.

Visiting boss Castle, already warned for encroaching onto the pitch, was sent-off for his complaints, promptly getting into an almightly row with a home supporter as he left the pitch, which prompted stewards and Royston players to race over toward the tunnel.

Powell almost increased the misery when he drilled into the side-netting in stoppage time.

Stourbridge: Wren, Westlake (Christophorou HT), Hayden, McCone, Brown, Powell, Broadhurst (Birch 76), Forde, Mills (Anderson 62), Benbow, Thompson-Brown Subs not used: Pierpoint, Steele.

Royston: Welch, Scott-Morriss, Alomenu (Gordon 63), Mentis, Murray, Brathwaite, Castiglione (Bola 72), Corcoran, Mooney (Norville-Williams 63), Potton, Assombalonga Subs not used: Thomas, Smart.

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
Football MMPJ - @mjmarr_star

Sports journalist for the Express & Star

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