Hitchin’s difficult start to the season met another setback as they were well beaten by top of the table Slough.
This was always going to be a difficult fixture as Slough were brimming with confidence after six consecutive victories and scoring eight goals on Saturday. But Hitchin had played well at Tiverton despite the result and there was hope that this improved display could be built on. However the stark fact was that once Hitchin conceded the second goal they capitulated and Slough ran through the defence at will.
A 4-0 defeat could have been heavier as Hitchin seemed to lose their self belief and the confidence of the players seemed shot to pieces. Hitchin’s success in the last two seasons has been built around a strong work ethic and invariably Hitchin have worked harder than their opponents but this was not the case at Slough.
Hitchin had one enforced change with Connor Roberts unavailable and Ben Walster came in at left back with Lewis Rolfe moving to right back and Josh Bickerstaff moving to the centre of defence. The early exchanges were even with little threat to either goal. But Slough took the lead from a corner that was needlessly conceded as Rolfe headed out when he could have let the ball go but did not appear to receive a call to let him know. Matt Lench took the corner which Hitchin did not defend well and James Dobson converted at the far post.
Jonny McNamara was set up by Callum Donnelly but his shot lacked power while Walster blasted over after a free kick but Hitchin lacked penetration.
Hitchin had their best spell of the game at the start of the second half but did not work the Slough keeper Jack Turner enough. Jack Green shot straight at Turner while Donnelly shot wide. Lucas Kirkpatrick replaced Charlie Smith but on 71 minutes Dobson scored his second and Hitchin just fell away. Slough suddenly found it easy to cut through the Hitchin defence and they could have added more than the two further goals they scored, Dobson completing his hat trick after 75 minutes with Simon Dunn adding the fourth after 86 minutes.
The lack of confidence and self belief has made even the most assured players from last season look off the pace. Mark Burke was frank in his assessment of the display and said we were lucky it was only four goals conceded so badly did we fade. He said the only way forward is to get back to working much harder and making it difficult for the opposition again and to stick together. The players were also honest about this display and even held an impromptu team meeting on the pitch after the final whistle to try and address the current malaise.
Slough – Turner, Jackman, Wells, Inns, Nisbet, Togwell, Dobson, Williams, Flood, Lench; subs – Fraser for Williams 87, Harris for Dobson 87, Wadkins, James.
Hitchin – Johnson, Rolfe, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, McNamara, C Donnelly, Brooks, Green, Smith; subs – Kirkpatrick for Smith 61, Mccaffrey, Charles, Bailey for Brooks 65, Bailey.
Slough – Dobson 24, 71 and 75, Dunn 86
Slough – Inns, Jackman and Wells.
Hitchin – Dowie and Kirkpatrick.
Attendance – 442