Hitchin Town rounded off 2017 in style as their clinical finishing saw them to an emphatic win over Kings Langley. It was not a happy return for Langley’s interim manager and Canary Hall of Famer Steve Conroy.
The Canaries made one change from the Royston line-up with Lewis Rolfe suspended. Charlie Smith returned to midfield and Josh Bickerstaff started alongside skipper Dan Webb in defence. Langley were not able to field on-loan Martin Bennett while Alasan Ann – who had been on the bench in the previous four games – was not available.
After an early effort by ex-Canary Michael King was collected by Michael Johnson, Hitchin opened the scoring on 9 minutes. Connor Vincent latched on to a fine through ball from Jay Dowie. Ross Hampton came out of his goal to close Vincent down and the striker’s shot was cleared off the line by Jorrell Johnson only to fall to Smith who put the ball into the empty net. That was to be Vincent’s last involvement as he limped off with a knock that will probably keep him out of the Banbury game next week. Brett Donnelly took his place leading the line.
The visitors battled to level the scores as Steve Ward and Kieran Turner trying to test the Canaries’ young full backs. However, Ward could not get direction on his shot as he met a deep cross at the far post, while a cross from Emmanuel Folarin narrowly flew over the Hitchin goal.
Trey Charles spurned a chance after being put through by Webb but soon made amends as Hitchin doubled their lead on 40 minutes. Hitchin broke from their own half through Smith and he timed a perfect pass to Charles who chipped the Langley keeper.
Hampton made a good save from Lucas Kirkpatrick to keep the score down at the break, after good build-up by Charles and Jonny McNamara, but after the interval Hitchin piled on the pressure.
The visitors had to clear desperately as the ball pinged around in their six-yard box following a Kavan Cotter throw-in but the pressure soon paid off. McNamara broke down the left and squared for Charles to add his second on 50 minutes and the winger’s hat trick followed five minutes later as he tucked home a chipped cross from Smith.
Langley continued to compete but, despite the efforts of substitute Gareth Price, failed to trouble Johnson. Hitchin made it five on 69 minutes when Charles turned provider as his cross was put away by substitute Elliot Bailey. Kirkpatrick wrapped up the scoring from the penalty spot on 82 minutes after Sam Tring had been penalised for a high challenge on Donnelly.
Mark Burke was pleased with Hitchin’s clinical finishing but had not been happy at half time, “Kings Langley were the better team in the first half and played some good football. We were clinical but we stressed at the break that the lads needed to get on top in the second half which they did.”
Steve Conroy agreed that clinical finishing had been the difference, “I felt we were the better team in the first 25 minutes. Two little mistakes meant we came in 2-0 down at half time and the two goals straight after half time meant it was a big battle to get anything. Our goalkeeper didn’t have that many saves to make and yet it’s 6-0.”
Hitchin Town – M Johnson, Cotter, Syme, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, Smith, Vincent, McNamara, Charles; subs – Donnelly (for Vincent), Bailey (for McNamara), Walster (for Smith), Tschikala
Kings Langley – Hampton, Folarin, Adebyi, Tring, J Johnson, Godfrey, Ward, Coldicott-Stevens, Gosling, King, Turner; subs – Price (for Gosling), Hodgins, Jung (for Coldicott-Stevens), Kenny
Hitchin Town – Smith (9), Charles (40, 50, 55), Bailey (69), Kirkpatrick (82, pen)
Kings Langley – Johnson
Sponsor’s MOTM – Trey Charles
Attendance – 540