Two stunning second half goals brought this friendly to life between the Canaries and local rivals Stevenage.
Stevenage began with a strong side that included a number of their summer signings. Mark Burke made changes from the game against Luton, with Jack Green getting a start, and trialists Danny Clifton and Elijah McDonald in the starting eleven.
The League 2 visitors had the better of the first period half and they got into their stride with some neat passing while quickly closing the Canaries down. After a brief melee following a Hitchin foul, Michael Johnson was called into action to save Michael Wilkinson’s header from the free kick. Fortunately the brawl didn’t reach the heights of last season’s Hendon match!
The game was punctuated by a minute of generous applause in memory of Bradley Lowery before half chances fell to Stevenage through Danny Newton and Alex Samuel. Wilkinson was then guilty of a glaring miss when his free header from a Tom Conlon corner went wide. The lively Conlon – who had missed almost all of last season due to injury and was making his comeback – fired a free kick across the face of the Canaries’ goal. However Johnson remained unbeaten as the home defence were forced to work hard on a sweltering afternoon.
At the other end, Hitchin struggled to impose themselves although Brett Donnelly attempted to bring his strike partner McDonald into the game.
Half time – Hitchin Town 0 Stevenage 0
Stevenage put out a completely different team in the second half with more fringe players but also two more of their new signings as well as veteran keeper Chris Day. Hitchin brought on new signings Connor Vincent and Elliot Bailey for Donnelly and Clifton.
Blair Turgott, Jamie Gray and Andron Georgio tried to make things happen up front for the visitors, but Hitchin looked more comfortable as the game went on. Day made a routine save from a Walster free kick after McDonald and Vincent linked up.
That was to be McDonald’s last involvement and his replacement Trey Charles would make an almost immediate impact. Vincent set up Charles on the right flank and he strode forward before firing home a powerful shot from an angle on 65 minutes.
Johnson made a routine save from a curling shot by Georgio but Stevenage were struggling to bounce back. However with just over 10 minutes left, a moment of magic saw Stevenage grab an equaliser. Debutant Turgott picked up the ball just over the halfway line and ran at the home defence before cutting in from the left to fire past Johnson.
Charles nearly had the final word with a late piledriver that forced a fine fingertip save from veteran keeper Chris Day. However it remained all square which pleased Mark Burke more than his opposite number, Darren Sarll.
The Canaries’ boss was please with the performance, “I was worried in the first ten minutes but the team worked out what they had to do to cope with the Stevenage threat. I was pleased with the performances on Wednesday and today with lots of players putting in good displays and knocking on the door for places.”
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Roberts (unnumbered sub), Walster (Budden), Dowie (unnumbered sub), Green (Riley), Rolfe, Kirkpatrick (McCaffrey), Clifton (Bailey), Brett Donnelly (Vincent), McDonald (Charles), Bickerstaff (Coley)
First half – Fryer, Henry, Martin, Wilkinson, Franks, Samuel, Conlon, Gorman, Beautyman, McKee, Newton
Second half – Day, trialist, Wilmot, Johnson, Fraser, Ferry, Pett, Slater, Georgiou, Gray, Turgott.
Hitchin Town – Charles (65)
Stevenage – Turgott (80)
Attendance – 732