Hitchin Town claimed only their second league win of the season against a Basingstoke side who had won 3 of their last 4 games. The three points lifted the Canaries two places up the league table into 18th place on 8 points.
Jay Dowie returned to the midfield with Jack Green dropping to the bench and the team starting with a 4-3-3 with Jonny McNamara and Callum Donnelly supporting Elliot Bailey in attack.
The early exchanges were scrappy with Charlie Smith firing wide for Hitchin and Dan Bayliss and Shane Hollamby placing headers wide for the visitors.
Hitchin have not had much luck this season but the fates were on their side on 25 minutes when they took the lead. Colm McAdden in the Basingstoke goal failed to collect the ball and was robbed by Bailey.The striker set up McNamara for his second goal in two games.
Michael Johnson in the Canaries goal kept Hitchin in it just before the break, diving to gather Sam Deadfield’s deflected touch on a low ball from Ashleigh Artwell. In truth though the home defence had done well to keep Basingstoke star striker Sam Smart – who already had seven goals to his name this season – under wraps.
McNamara had two chances early in the second half after he was put through by first Smith and then Bailey. He was unable to double his tally and the Canaries’ lead as he fired narrowly wide on both occasions. However Hitchin’s fluent football was rewarded on 65 minutes as Callum Donnelly volleyed home.
Johnson was forced into action as Terry Brown’s team tried to get back into the match. He saved well from Charlie Kennedy, and twice from curling efforts by Basingstoke substitute Ben Wright. Jack McKnight also fired over the crossbar. At the other end, McNamara was put through by Man of the Match Jay Dowie but the offside flag was raised.
The visitors did reduce the arrears in style on 83 minutes. A corner was cleared only as far as Dan Collier just outside the area and he hammered home powerfully to give Johnson no chance.
With time running out, substitute Trey Charles thought he had sealed the Hitchin win. He went up with McAdden and netted with a close range header. The goal was chalked off for a foul on the keeper but it was clear to everyone except the referee that no contact had been made between the two players.
It left the Canaries to withstand late Basingstoke pressure as nerves started to fray but no-one could connect with Bennett’s final freekick into the Hitchin box and the hosts held on for a valuable and deserved win.
Hitchin Town look to climb further away from the foot of the table when they are back at Top Field on Monday night for a 7.45pm kick off against St Ives Town.
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Cotter, Bickerstaff, Dowie, Webb, Rolfe, Kirkpatrick, Callum Donnelly, Bailey, Smith, McNamara; subs – Green (for Webb), Walster, Charles (for Callum Donnelly), McCaffrey, Brett Donnelly (for Bailey)
Basingstoke Town – McAdden, Johnson-Schuster, Wohlfiel, Collier, Hollamby, Bayliss, Deadfield, Kennedy, Smart, McKnight, Artwell; subs – Bennett (for Wohlfiel), Wright (for Artwell), Demuria (for Smart), Goater, Holt
Hitchin Town – McNamara (25), Callum Donnelly (65)
Basingstoke Town – Collier (83)
Hitchin Town – Rolfe, McNamara
Sponsor’s Man of the Match – Jay Dowie
Attendance – 403