After a strong start to the league campaign, Royston have been rocked recently by the departure of manager Paul Atfield due to ill health, and have slipped down the league table following a home defeat against AFC Hayes and a heavy defeat at league leaders Barton Rovers. Slough, meanwhile, went into the game with only one defeat in their last 12 league games, and boosted by the return of Sean Fraser, the full-back taking a place on the bench after a month out injured.
The in-form Johnnie Dyer sent a header wide early on, but with just five minutes played, Slough went ahead, capitalising on Royston’s failure to clear. Eddie Smith found his path to goal blocked, but the ball fell to Warren Harris, who fired in his sixth goal of the season with the aid of a slight deflection into the bottom corner.
After this goal, the game threatened to become ill-tempered, with Royston players remonstrating with referee Andrew Aylott on a number of occasions for what they felt were unfair challenges by Dave Woozley. The Slough stalwart was to leave the game early shortly after, with an apparent ankle injury which would leave him out of action for a couple of weeks.
Neither Jake Somerville nor George Darlow were stretched, both making comfortable saves from long-range Kaan Fehmi and Adam Foulser strikes respectively. Slough’s early rhythm was clearly affected by Woozley’s departure, but replacement Ben Edwards slotted in to the left-back position comfortably.
But Royston came back into the game strongly towards the end of the first half, Fehmi blasting wastefully over before Luke Robins hit the top of the bar with a header.
The hosts could have gone into the half-time break level, but after Guy Hollis was booked for a foul, the resulting free kick was played to the back post, where neither Taylor Parr nor Joe De La Salle could convert. Robins then blasted a 30-yard strike not far wide of Somerville’s post.
Early in the second half, Slough had chances to kill the game off, but Royston were indebted to keeper Darlow for keeping them in it. After Hollis had shot wide following a superb run, the tricky Warren Harris played in Smith, who hit the outside of the post.
Smith put another shot just wide under pressure from De La Salle, and Darren Wheeler, who had a quiet game, had a shot blocked by Darlow at close range.
Slough looked certain to kill the game off, but again were frustrated as a fierce goalbound volley from Dyer was headed clear by Ady Cambridge, and moments later, another effort from Dyer was kept out by an incredible save from Darlow, tipping the ball onto the crossbar.
Scott Harris replaced Dyer and almost created a chance by tenaciously winning the ball on the edge of the Royston box, but the hosts were still in the game, and had a shot deflected just wide with Somerville scrambling across to make sure.
Slough, though, were excellent in defence, with Hollis and Foulser again outstanding in winning numerous tackles and heading clear most things Royston could throw at them, whilst Harrison and Edwards were also impressive.
A hard fought three points was confirmed, tainted only by injuries to Woozley and Smith late on, who hurt his ankle after getting tangled up in the goal netting four minutes from time.
Royston Town Line up
George Darlow, Ross Collins, Jhai Dhillon, Taylor Parr, Joe De La Salle, Sam Spencer, Ade Cambridge, Ryan Lockett, Antonio Murray, Kaan Fehmi, Luke Robins. Subs: Carl Edwards, Ryan Ingrey, Mitchell Bryant, Craig Hammond, Rob Mason.