Hitchin had put this game to bed by half time after producing what manager Mark Burke described as some of the best football played this season. Indeed this was a performance to match the best of last season as from the first whistle Hitchin set about their task with relish. They played at a high tempo and with high energy and gave Dorchester no chance to settle. Hitchin really pressed Dorchester giving their opponents no time on the ball and to add icing to the cake they were also clinical with their finishing. The end result was a comprehensive 4-1 win which was a fifth successive victory for the Canaries of which four have come in the league.
Team news saw Jay Dowie and Brett Donnelly return to the bench while Connor Vincent who had originally been named as a substitute due to a slight injury concern then aggravated the problem in the warm up and would not have been able to come on. Kavan Cotter returned from Luton to play at right back while Ben Walster came in at left back with Josh Bickerstaff moving to midfield and Toby Syme dropping to the bench. Elliot Bailey played the central striker role with Trey Charles and Jonny McNamara providing the width.
In just the third minute Lucas Kirkpatrick produced a good save from Chris Weale and this set the tone as Hitchin were rampant in the early stages. In the fourth minute Hitchin’s short corner routine came up trumps as Charlie Smith set up Bickerstaff who got a good connection to easily beat Weale. Hitchin continued to push forward and their second goal came after a Dorchester corner. It was positively collected by Michael Johnson who delivered an excellent kick to Charles on the right wing and he set up McNamara with an incisive cross. McNamara’s shot was saved and Bailey’s follow up was cleared off the line but in this scramble McNamara was fouled. Kirkpatrick dispatched the penalty comfortably.
Charles was then booked for kicking the ball away with frustration and this was to prove costly later. But Hitchin continued to seek further goals. Cotter had a shot saved, Smith shot wide and had another shot that McNamara diverted wide. But Hitchin were not to be denied and Smith delivered an exquisite pass that Bailey finished with aplomb after 36 minutes.
3-0 was an accurate reflection of an outstanding first half from Hitchin and it got even better just ten minutes in to the second half when Smith produced one of the passes of the season to set up McNamara who finished well. Johnson was called on to make a very good save from Neil Martin before Charles was dismissed after getting a second yellow card. It was more clumsy than malicious but means he will be suspended for the Kettering game.
Dorchester made a double substitution to try and change the game with their numerical advantage. Bickerstaff blocked a shot from David Jerrard but in truth a comeback never really looked likely. Syme, Dowie and Jimmy Hartley came on in the last 15 minutes to provide fresh legs but Dorchester did get a consolation goal on 82 minutes when a free kick from Mohammad Baghdadi took a horrible deflection to leave Johnson with no chance. But Hitchin had the game wrapped up and this was a memorable performance. The slow start to the season is now a distant memory and this was a return to what Hitchin are all about. Nobody is getting carried away but the play off positions are now a realistic target.
This was a team performance with all the players contributing. The defence was solid , the midfield both creative and tenacious with Smith and Kirkpatrick showing a return to their best form while the frontline was potent. If this level of performance can be maintained supporters will have a great deal to look forward to for the rest of the season.
Finally mention must be made of the larger than usual number of Hitchin supporters who made the long journey to Dorchester and provided great vocal support throughout the ninety minutes making it seem more like a home game.
Dorchester Weale, Egan, Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Lanahan, Daiz, Lowes, Ormrod, Panesar-Dower, Baghdadi Subs Blair for Lanahan 67,Jerrard for Ormrode 67, Bastick for Panesar-Dower 50
Hitchin Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Rolfe, Webb, Bickerstaff, Charles,Kirkpatrick, Bailey, McNamara, Smith Subs Syme for Cotter 78, Dowie for Smith 80, Donnelly, Hartley for Bailey 87, Vincent
Dorchester Baghdadi 82
Hitchin Bickerstaff 4, Kirkpatrick pen 16, Bailey 36, McNamara 55
Charles 2 yellows
Walster, Bickerstaff, Syme