As I was on my way south to that there London for a Sunday trip to The Bridge, I was looking for something suitable en-route for my Saturday football fix.
I will be absolutely honest and say my first choice was the Isthmian League game between Corinthian- Casuals and Tonbridge Angels but this game was postponed as the former were knocked out of FA Trophy, whilst the latter went through.
FA Trophy? My attention was now drawn to this competition and the all Southern League tie between Royston Town and Thame United caught my eye, so it was to Hertfordshire I headed.
The journey down took longer than expected so there was just about time for a brief walk up the High Street and a quick drink in the local 'spoons before making the short walk to the ground.
Royston Town are the second oldest club in the county (after Hitchin Town) having been founded in 1875. The club have played their home games at Garden Walk since 1932. The ground is hemmed in with houses surrounding the ground on three sides and a cemetery on the other.
The club have made good use of the available space and the ground has rural feel to it. There is a large seated stand alongside one side of the pitch and a wooden 'decking' covered stand in one corner of the ground. There are two of the ubiquitous arena stands, one in the other corner and one behind the goal. There is also an overhang from the clubhouse, where the majority of home fans stood during the game.
Royston Town are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division Central, which is the highest level the club has played at in its history. The club gained promotion to the Southern League (as Champions) in 2012 after nearly 20 years in the Spartan South Midlands League. They won the first division title in 2017 to gain promotion to step 3 of the pyramid. The club are currently in third place in the table and their forthcoming clash against league leaders Kettering Town was the talk of the terrace.
It was cool and overcast as I arrived at the ground but by the time the game kicked off the weather was appalling. It absolutely bucketed down but the conditions made the pitch slick and wet, which always makes for an entertaining game in my humble opinion. Thame opened the scoring after 12 minutes when a fine move and cross was finished off by Lynton Goss.
Thame had a glorious chance to double their lead after 15 minutes when Liam Tack broke clear with only the keeper to beat but his attempted chip was easily gathered by Joe Welch in the Royston goal. Almost straight away The Crows went up the other end and former Leyton Orient striker David Mooney fired home to level things up.
Royston were now moving the ball around well and before half time some good passing football created the openings for Mooney to complete his hat-trick (35 & 41).
Thame started the second half brightly but were soon 4-1 down after 55 minutes when Jamie Essex deflected the ball into his own net.
Royston squandered chances to further extend their lead but did eventually score a fifth, and arguably the goal of the game, when Spyros Mentis (79) turned and volleyed the ball into the top corner from the corner of the box. Game over?
Well not quite. In the last 10 minutes, seemingly with nothing to lose, Thame went for it and got a goal back through Tack after 81 minutes. They also hit the post and missed two great chances as the ball pinged around the box. The Royston defenders were throwing their bodies on the line to block the shots.
In the end though it was Royston who deservedly went through to the third round and they will now have another home tie, this time against Needham Market.