Aston overthrow royalty in tight affair to stay top!
After last week's cup victory the lions headed into a tough league fixture Vs 4th placed Royals in buoyant mood. It is still tight at the top so 3 points would be very valuable to keep the chasing pack at arms length.
The gaffer had some selection headaches this week with Evans and Angus returning to the squad, but following the victory over Hanborough the week before both had to make do with a place on the bench. Edwards continued in goal with Clarke being the only returnee to go straight into the team alongside Harris, with Edney and Rowe either side. Cade, Beer, Evans, and Fleming were the 4 in front of them and Kennedy and Lewis continued up top.
The pitch was always going to be hard for Aston to get their passing game going, so it was no surprise that the reds started rather sluggishly. Royals started the brightest and nearly took the lead within a couple of minutes much to Edwards disapproval....insert expletives here. It was the wake up call the reds needed and they began to get a foothold in the game, making use of the wings as their main outlets. The lions first few opportunities came after a barrage of corners, but we're kept out by some brave goalkeeping. The best chance came when Kennedy deftly headed on from a Fleming corner which just went over the bar. The deadlock was finally broken on 30 minutes. A poor kick from the Royals keeper landed straight at the speedy Cade with Fleming in suppor. He ran through 1 v 1 and unselfishly squared the ball for Fleming to roll the ball home. 1-0 Aston.
It was the lift the home side needed and settled the lads down who had been probably 2nd best up until that point. Cade then had a good chance to put the lions 2 nil up only for his strike to cannon back off the post. But from finally controlling the game came disaster. A long kick over the top was flying toward Edwards area. Cross chasing a lost cause just tried to put some sort of pressure on. Edwards should have taken 1 step forward and claimed it but instead waited for the ball to come to him and Cross got his toe on it and scored. There are rumours Edwards is still waiting for the ball to go into his hands now. 1-1 and half time.
A usually very vocal gaffer had finally been tamed so it was up to his 'league games only' assistant to gee the lads up. He was happy as he knew it would be a battle and that it would be hard to play the way they wanted on the uneven surface. Keep getting the ball wide was the game plan and to believe we can win it.
The 2nd half started not much different to how the first ended. The reds were much more comfortable in possession now, but Royals still looked dangerous on the break. Royals went closest to going ahead when a great cross from the right was whipped across the face of goal and just couldn't quite be turned it at the far post. Despite this scare the Aston defence had been resolute and dealt with most of what was thrown at them.It was then Aston's turn to miss an opportunity to take the lead. A good run by Cade was direct and in towards goal. The angle was against him so he pulled back to Fleming who completely fluffed his lines and the ball went through his legs. Reclaiming the ball he layed the ball off to Kennedy who was overlapping, but his tame shot was easily saved.
The first change for Aston came with Evans replacing Kennedy up front, closely followed by Angus coming on for Austin. A reshuffle meant Evans went centre mid, Angus came wide left with Fleming partnering Lewis up front. The change worked and Aston got there breakthrough. Lewis held the ball up well on halfway and managed to play a good ball out wide to Cade. Cade again used his pace to full effect and charged towards the byline. He cut the ball back perfectly to Fleming who held his run back and volleyed into the net. 2-1 Aston.
There was still drama in the closing stages. The home side should have had a penalty when Lewis was fouled in the area only for the ref to wave play on. This resulted in a Fleming booking for talking his way into it in discuss. Then Royals had 2 good chances when Edwards saved well from a strike that looked like it was going top corner, and also a great cross from the left fell kindly to the substitute striker only for him to hit over from close range. Full time and Aston maintained their good form with a hard fought 2-1 victory.
It was the test of character the team needed after only needing to play some games in 3rd gear, so coming out with the 3 points was a massive boost. Great team effort and another step closer to the goal. MOM was tough as everyone gave their all. Lewis's hold up play gave the lions a platform to build around, Fleming getting both goals and the defence stood firm, but Cade just edged it with his 2 assists and relentless running.