This was another very impressive victory for Hitchin. It was their fourth consecutive win away from home in the league and they have won six and drawn one of their last seven games. In the last four games just one goal has been conceded and Hitchin are now up to sixth in the table. Confidence is now flowing through the team and the slow start to the season has been overtaken by a return to the type of football that took Hitchin to the play-off final last season. This was another high tempo performance and from the first whistle Hitchin showed a hunger and desire that Stortford could not match and the outcome was the fourth victory for Hitchin over their Hertfordshire rivals this season.
Hitchin pressed high and closed down quickly as they made sure their opponents had no chance to settle. Two goals in the opening seventeen minutes gave Hitchin a command of the game that they never surrendered. The victory was achieved against a Stortford team that had comprehensively beaten high flying Slough on their own ground in their last fixture and they were by no means easy opponents with central striker Dipo Akinyemi particularly impressive.
Hitchin made two changes from Saturday with Trey Charles returning from suspension to replace the absent Elliot Bailey and Jay Dowie coming in for the less than fully fit Charlie Smith. As early as the second minute a brilliant long range pass from Lewis Rolfe set up Charles whose shot was blocked before Connor Vincent suffered the same fate. But just a minute later another well directed pass from Rolfe sent Lucas Kirkpatrick down the wing and he produced a perfect cross for Dan Webb to head emphatically past Tyler McCarthy.
Stortford came close when a cross from Darren Foxley just evaded Dean Ager at the far post but Hitchin doubled their lead in the 17th minute when a clever Vincent flick on released Charles who sprinted forward and delivered a sensational finish that McCarthy could only watch and admire. Hitchin continued to work exceptionally hard and a good run by Jonny McNamara was ended by a crude challenge from Joe Robinson that led to a deserved booking.
Hitchin fully deserved their 2-0 half time lead and while the second half did not produce the same quality of football they showed very good game management and defended really well to keep Stortford at bay. Michael Johnson who was dominant throughout saved well from a Tom Clifford free kick and from an Akinyemi shot. Hitchin still created chances and McNamara was again the victim of a poor challenge that saw Marvel Ekpiteta booked. Vincent came close on two occasions and hit the post.
Brett Donnelly replaced Dowie after 72 minutes and Jimmy Hartley came on for Charles after 84 minutes. Hartley came close to his first Hitchin goal but McCarthy thwarted him. The game was sealed in injury time when Robinson again brought down McNamara to earn a second yellow card and present Hitchin with a clear penalty. Kirkpatrick made no mistake and a 3-0 score line was just reward for an excellent team performance.
Nobody at Hitchin is getting carried away and a play off position will still be difficult to achieve but if they can keep up this level of performance no other team will fancy a game against the Canaries. With a free Saturday Hitchin have a relaxed build up to the visit to Royston on Boxing Day when there is sure to be a large presence of Hitchin supporters who again provided good vocal support at Stortford.
Bishop’s Stortford McCarthy, Casey, Clifford, Simpson, Ekpiteta, Robinson, Ager, Thomas, Akinyemi, Westcott, Foxley Subs Hughes for Westcott 63,Taylor for Simpson 72, Mason, Brassington,Voss
Hitchin Johnson, Cotter, Syme, Rolfe, Webb, Bickerstaff, Dowie, Kirkpatrick, Vincent, McNamara, Charles Subs Donnelly for Dowie 72, Smith, Hartley for Charles 84, Byrne
Webb, Charles and Kirkpatrick penalty.
Robinson 2 yellows