Hitchin Town battled back after going behind twice against St Ives and could have clinched all three points on Monday evening at Top Field.
Hitchin made three changes from Saturday’s win against Basingstoke as Brett Donnelly and Jack Green started along with Ben Walster, as Josh Bickerstaff moved into the centre of defence to replace injured skipper Dan Webb.
In a poor first half the Canaries failed to maintain the momentum from the weekend while the lowly visitors showed plenty of commitment and purpose going forward. On 12 minutes St Ives had their reward as Jimmy Hartley fired in a low shot from the edge of the area to give them the lead.
The Canaries had chances and Jonny McNamara was at the heart of them. He turned home a Walster shot on 21 minutes only to be flagged offside and also fired wide as St Ives keeper James Goff came out to make the target smaller.
However at the other end only some last ditch clearances by Jay Dowie stopped Hartley and the experienced Lewis Hilliard from exploiting space in the Hitchin defence.
A late shot by Lucas Kirkpatrick was gathered easily by Goff as the half ended but the visitors merited their narrow lead.
While Mark Burke made no substitutions at half time, Hitchin were more purposeful from the restart and had an early shout for a penalty waved away when a shot by Green was turned wide of the post – the players and the fans behind the goal arguing that a defender had got the vital hand to the ball!
Lucas Kirkpatrick blazed over after McNamara had jinked between three defenders and cut the ball back. It seemed like a goal was coming and when it did, on 52 minutes, it was McNamara with his third in three games as he got between Goff and defender Brett Longden to flick the ball home.
Hitchin pushed for second and, following good work by Kavan Cotter – who looked very composed on the ball, Callum Donnelly’s cross was headed just over by Brett Donnelly. The same pair of players also set up McNamara who was thwarted by Goff.
However on 65 minutes, against the run of play, St Ives regained the lead when a cross from the left was headed home by Peter Clarke.
Hitchin refused to be deflated and four minutes later scored the best goal of the night. Goff punched away a corner and it fell to Dowie who returned a dipping shot from some 25 yards that flew over the keeper to level the scores again.
From then it was almost all Hitchin while St Ives looked to hang onto their point. Green, Callum Donnelly and McNamara all came close. In a frantic last five minutes, Connor Vincent – making his Canary league debut – went close twice. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Charles and Callum Donnelly combined to create a final chance for McNamara but he could not fashion a shot and the Canaries had to be content with a draw.
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly, Green, McNamara; subs – Bailey, Charlie Smith, Charles (for Kirkpatrick), Vincent (for Brett Donnelly), Syme
St Ives Town – Goff, Miles Smith, Longden, De’Ath, Chaffey, McGowan, Hilliard, Clark, Kelly, Hartley, Draycott; subs – Jarrold, Nichols, Seymour-Shove (for Hilliard), Ogbonna (for Hartley), Hall (for Clark)
Hitchin Town – McNamara (52), Dowie (69)
St Ives Town – Hartley (12), Clark (65)
Hitchin Town – Kirkpatrick
St Ives Town – Smith, Hartley
Attendance – 325
Sponsors MOTM – Jay Dowie