Tiverton Town maintained their push for the play-offs in a game marred by early controversy.
Hitchin welcomed back Dan Webb and Michael Johnson as the only changes from the starting eleven in the Stratford game.
The game was barely ten minutes old and had not got out of first gear when Brett Donnelly was elbowed by Tiverton’s Owen Irish. The defender was shown a straight red but refused to walk and then appeared to bite Donnelly. The striker was red carded as a mass brawl erupted involving players, substitutes and coaching staff. The whole incident took some ten minutes to abate, and required club officials and security staff, and did not paint a good picture of non-league football in front of a big crowd.
Once actual football resumed, the prolific Levi Landricombe fired over for Tiverton while Jonny McNamara hit the side netting for the hosts and Liam Armstrong saved well from Ben Walster.
The deadlock was broken on 43 minutes as the Canaries half cleared a corner. Jordan Rodgers, positioned on the edge of the area, slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
Matt Spring nearly levelled as he found a shooting angle from outside the area and sent in a fierce shot that struck the upright. Unfortunately Tiverton went straight down the pitch and doubled their lead in first half stoppage time as Landricombe latched on to a through ball and slotted past Michael Johnson.
The second half saw the visitors defend their lead with Ben Mammola and Tom Gardner resolute in the centre as Hitchin pressed forward. Trey Charles had chances – first a double effort when his first shot was blocked and his second blazed over. His next effort was a curling shot which drew a good save by Armstrong who also turned away another Spring shot.
McNamara did beat Armstrong, heading into the net only to be penalised for a foul as he challenged the Tiverton keeper, while Hitchin had claims for a penalty waved away as Josh Bickerstaff went down.
Some consolation came as skipper Dan Webb met a late corner with a powerful header in the 90th minute but Tiverton held firm to claim three points and move into 6th place. But the aftermath from that early incident will rumble on, not least impacting Mark Burke’s options for the league cup final next week.
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Syme, Walster, Spring, Webb, Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, Smith, McNamara, Donnelly, Charles; subs – Rolfe (Syme), Vincent (Kirkpatrick), Logan, Tshikala (Smith), Byrne
Tiverton Town – Armstrong, Short, Hurst, Irish, Mammola, Gardner, Bath, M Landricombe, J Rogers, L Landricombe, S Rogers; subs – Price, Lewington (J Rogers), Hall (L Landricombe), G Rogers
Hitchin Town – Webb (90)
Tiverton Town – J Rogers (43), L Landricombe (45+4)
Hitchin Town – Walster, Charles
Tiverton Town – Hurst
Hitchin Town – Donnelly
Tiverton Town – Irish
Sponsors’ MOTM – Matt Spring
Attendance – 606
Colin, photo Peter Else