Hitchin Town ended their run of home league defeats with a dogged draw against playoff hopefuls Chesham United.
In a game of few real chances, the decisive action came with less than 10 minutes to go when the Generals’ emergency goalkeeper pulled off two close range reflex saves. Defender Matthew Hall had donned the gloves for the injured Harry Isted. He palmed away Connor Vincent’s shot for a corner and then kept out Dan Webb’s effort from the set piece.
Mark Burke rang the changes after three successive home defeats. Out went James Russell, Toby Syme, Lewis Rolfe, Kevin Byrne, Lucas Kirkpatrick and Robbie Burns. Michael Johnson was restored in goal with Ben Walster’s experience at full back in a back four as Josh Bickerstaff partnered Webb in the centre. Kavan Cotter returned from Luton Town to take a midfield berth while new arrival Hugo Logan made his debut and Jonny McNamara and Vincent supported Brett Donnelly.
McNamara had one half chance when he was put through by Charlie Smith but his shot was tame. The visitors though held more of the initiative in the first half hour with Adam Watkins at the centre of much of their play. Watkins and David Hutton combined to fashion two opportunities for Jefferson Louis but the first was cleared from the striker’s head while the second was lashed wide of the post.
For Hitchin, Logan’s running was positive while Cotter looked comfortable and industrious in his new role for the Canaries. As the half closed, a shot from Smith looped off a Chesham defender for an easy save from Isted while Johnson gathered a Hutton effort after Matt Bevans had run at Hitchin’s defence.
Half time – Hitchin Town 0 Chesham United 0
Chesham again had more of the play after the break but could not fashion clear chances to test Johnson, with Webb doing well to keep Louis in check. Just before the hour Mark Burke replaced Logan with Trey Charles and the substitute forced Isted to concede a corner after he latched on to a good crossfield pass from Walster, only for Cotter to sky over the bar from the set piece. Charles then turned provider to fashion a chance for McNamara but the forward was signalled offside.
Johnson showed good judgement in coming out of his box to clear from ex-Canary Lewis Toomey and then saved well from a stooping Hutton header. However the drama was at the other end where Isted sustained a knock and defender Hall had to deputise.
After Hall’s heroics, both sides had half chances with Watkins’ shot being deflected for a corner while Hall also did well to collect a cross from Smith. Substitute Ravi Shansi did well to set up Toomey as the game entered the 4th minute of stoppage time but the striker blazed over in the last action.
This was a more resilient hard-working Canary performance with good individual contributions, and it just needed a goal to cap it off. Hopefully that will come when Hitchin host basement side Gosport Borough on Saturday.
Full time – Hitchin Town 0 Chesham United 0
Hitchin Town – Johnson, James, Walster, Cotter, Webb, Bickerstaff, McNamara, Vincent, Donnelly, Logan, Smith; subs – Kirkpatrick, Rolfe, Charles (for Logan), Byrne, Syme
Chesham United – Isted, Crilley, Green, Bevans, Murphy, Bates, Swales, Watkins, Louis, Toomey, Hutton; subs – McGleish, Bush, Shansi (for Hutton), Smaldone, Hall (for Isted)
Attendance – 281
Sponsor’s Man of the Match – Connor Vincent