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Hitchin Town 0 Norwich City 10

Wednesday, July 15 2015

To say the score doesn't matter when you concede ten goals may sound like dissembling. However on this occasion it was true as the two teams celebrated 150 years of association football in Hitchin.

The pace, movement and finishing - and the squad strength - of the Premiership new boys eventually told in this clash of the Canaries. However for 45 minutes Hitchin defended valiantly and even caused problems on the counter attack.

In front of a very good crowd of 1777, Norwich put out a different team in each half - both packed with experience and international class. Meanwhile, Hitchin welcomed back Josh Bickerstaff, Charlie Smith and Jamie Arlick. They started with three central defenders and Rolfe and Bickerstaff as wingbacks.

The first exchanges were even with Hitchin having a good share of the ball. However Cameron Jerome showed top flight skill as he turned past his man and unleashed a shot that went in at Horlock's near post on 15 minutes.

Hitchin so nearly claimed an equaliser moments later. A precise through ball from McNamara found Lench. His curling shot was heading for the top corner but Ruddy showed England quality to turn the ball over.

Horlock then saved low down to deny Jerome a second but the Norwich striker did double the lead on 27 with a close range finish. For the remainder of the half Hitchin defended resolutely, with Ann and Pearson getting in vital blocks. Norwich however pressed quickly to limit the home side’s chances to build momentum and Jerome blazed over when a hat-trick opportunity came along while Josh Murphy shot wide.

At the end of the half Hitchin did have a purple (or maybe magenta to match their one-off kit) patch as good build ups featuring Lench and Bickerstaff gave McNamara two half chances. He could only get the faintest contact on the first and his shot was charged down for the second.

HALF TIME Hitchin 0 Norwich 2

Norwich fielded a completely different side in the second half while Hitchin replaced Martin and Webb with Arlick and Kirkpatrick and moved to a back four. Unfortunately Norwich relished the extra space and a salvo of 5 goals in thirteen minutes left Hitchin reeling. Andreu was at the centre of events netting twice in that period – the second a neat back post volley – while Hooper scored one and nearly chipped another. Hoolahan added a penalty after Horlock had upended Murphy after the defence had been split, while O’Neil opened his account for Norwich.

Hitchin struggled to make any inroads with just one shot fired wide. Johnson, who had replaced Horlock, did however make a sequence of saves including one that was the equal of Ruddy’s earlier effort. 

The Hitchin defence – with the full quota of substitutes now having been made - continued to hustle Norwich but the class of the opposition, who also already had one pre-season match under their belts, was now telling. Andreu duly collected his hat-trick and Norwich’s eighth goal on 75 minutes, O’Neil doubled his tally after being set up  by Hoolahan and finally Whittaker took Norwich to double figures seconds before the referee called a halt to procedings.
Although the score looked harsh, Hitchin had not been disgraced especially during the first half. More importantly plenty of fans of both teams came through the turnstiles to celebrate Hitchin’s anniversary and support the chosen charities.
FINAL SCORE Hitchin 0 Norwich 10
Hitchin: Horlock, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Pearson, McNamara, C Donnelly, Martin, Smith, Lench
Subs: Johnson, Walster, Corran, Kirkpatrick, Brooks, Wright, Payne, Arlick, Munday
First half: Ruddy, E Bennett, R Bennett, Bassong, Johnson, Tettey, Dorrans, Thompson, Loza, Jerome, Josh Murphy
Second half: Rudd, Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Toffolo, Mulumbu, O’Neil, Andreu, Hoolahan, Hooper, Jacob Murphy.
Goals: Jerome 15 and 27, Andreu 51, 62 and 75, Hooper 54, Hoolahan (pen) 57, O’Neil 64 and 85, Whittaker 90
Attendance 1777

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