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Royals 2-2 Meole Brace Juniors (League, 15-03-09)
(Moffat 2)

Royals 100% record for 2009 came to an end today at the hands of local rivals Meole Brace Juniors. Much hype had been made of this re-arranged game, as several of the players knew each other from the old Stoke City sponsored Shrewsbury School Development Centre, and the two ex Royals that Meole Brace had playing for them. A lot was at stake.

The game started fairly evenly, with both teams looking to push forward and create chances. Meole were playing with two strikers, whilst the Royals played in a 4-5-1 formation.

Royals looked good going forward, using their wingers to good advantage. However the Meole defence were solid at the back and they frustrated the Royals attacks.

The breakthrough came after 16 minutes when Leech won the ball in midfield, and found Moffat to the right. The Royals midfielder was able to beat a defender and fire home from just outside the area, into the far corner of the net, for a deserved 1-0 lead.

For the remainder of the first half, Meole had more of the possession. Royals struggled to keep possession when they won the ball, and tended to give it away cheaply to their opponents.

The teams went in at half time with the score at 1-0 and Royals were told to tighten things up in the centre of the park. They were not taking advantage of the extra man they had in midfield, and so were not providing a decent supply to their forwards.

Meole started the second half full of determination and Royals were on the back foot for a while. However as the second half progressed they did have their chances. Leech came close when he saw his header glance just off the crossbar. Hearle sent over a cross just out of the reach of Fielding. Moffat shot just wide after a penetrating run into the Meole penalty area.

At the other end Keugler dealt with everything tidily and commanded his area well, with the defence seemingly able to deal with everything that was thrown at them.

Ten minutes into the second half Meole equalised after Carless-Turland came back to haunt. Royals failed to clear and he turned quickly in the penalty area and fired home a loose ball past the outstretched Keugler.

This equaliser spurred Meole Brace on, and Royals looked a fraction of the team that had defeated Shrewsbury Juniors the previous week. Their opponents were playing with confidence and 12 minutes later deservedly took the lead after a goalmouth scramble. A shot was scrambled away to the feet of a Meole player, who managed to put the ball in the back of the net after the ball deflected off the unfortunate Keugler on the floor.

With 7 minutes remaining it looked as though Royals would be suffering their first defeat since November 2008. However they were rescued by Moffat, who was sent on his way by Hearle to charge forward into the Meole penalty area. His shot did enough to get past the outstretched keeper.

Royals could have snatched a last minute winner but were thwarted by a brilliant double save by the Meole keeper, firstly from Hearle and then from Moffat again.

One point each then and a disappointing result for the Royals who would have looking to get all three to maintain their pressure at the top of the table.

Team: Keugler, Agnew, Green, Al-Houbani, Smith, Miles, Hearle, Moffat, Leech, Fielding, Lewis (Baker 40) Sub not used: Weynberg


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