One moment of class from Trey Charles sealed the three points for Hitchin Town against a battling Dunstable Town. The winger cut inside from the right flank to fire past Nick Hayes as the Canaries caught the visitors cold at the start of the second half.
The Canaries lined up with the eleven that finished the game at St Ives on Tuesday, and with only three substitutes due to a string of injuries that ruled out Jay Dowie, Jack Green and Brett Donnelly.
The first half was almost all one-way traffic with the Canaries taking the game to Dunstable. Elliot Bailey had an effort cleared off the line, Trey Charles created a chance as both Connor Vincent and Jonny McNamara came in at the far post only for the final header to roll across the goal face, while Charles himself fired over from the edge of the box.
Vincent came closest, latching onto a through ball from Charles but firing agonisingly wide. Bailey and McNamara also just failed to connect with a low cross from Kavan Cotter.
Dunstable defended with determination and Hayes was not called upon to make any significant saves before the break as Hitchin could not find the cutting edge. The visitors had far less possession but wide men Charlie Black and Andrew Osei-Bonsu looked dangerous on the break.
Half time – Hitchin Town 0 Dunstable Town 0
Following Charles’ strike, Hitchin nearly extended their lead just before the hour when McNamara was put through on goal. However the highly-rated England U19 keeper Hayes gathered bravely at the second attempt. The hosts came closest after 64 minutes when skipper Dan Webb headed onto the crossbar before Hayes then saved a diving header from Vincent.
As the game wore on, home fans feared that Dunstable might snatch a late leveller. However Peter Kioso sent a free header wide and Eldon Maquemba first shot wide and then forced Michael Johnson into action. At the other end, Jimmy Hartley made his Hitchin debut, replacing McNamara, but there was no dream start for him and no further goals. Bailey came closest but was robbed just as he was shaping to shoot.
Remembering recent matches at Top Field where the Canaries have failed to defeat supposedly poor rivals (Dorchester last season for example), it was a relief to see the Canaries hang on for the win and move into 7th place in the Evostik League South. Dunstable were left to rue that another dogged performance earned plaudits from their understanding fans but no points.
Full time – Hitchin Town 1 Dunstable Town 0
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Cotter, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb, Kirkpatrick, Charles, Vincent, Bailey, McNamara, Smith; subs – Walster, Syme, Hartley (for McNamara)
Dunstable Town – Hayes, Kioso, Ward, Vracui, Sonuga, Andriopoulos, Black, Ladipo, A Amu, Maquemba, Osei-Bonsu; subs – Odusoga, Barnett (for Black), E Amu (for Vracui), Trif (for Andriopoulos), Silva
Hitchin Town – Charles (47)
Hitchin Town – Bickerstaff
Dunstable Town – Sonuga, Maquemba
Sponsors Man of the Match – Trey Charles
Attendance – 457