Hitchin advanced to the quarter finals of the Hertfordshire Senior Cup and in doing so dumped Bishops Stortford out of a third tournament this season.
This rematch of last season’s final was all but over after Hitchin scored 3 goals in 15 minutes before half time. The second half saw Stortford try to recover but the game was marred by a red card for each side in a confrontational five minute spell.
Hitchin lined up with just two changes from Saturday, with Toby Syme and Ben Walster coming in at full back in place of Kavan Cotter and Jonny McNamara, with Josh Bickerstaff moved into the centre of midfield. Stortford, who had already fallen to the Canaries in the Charity Cup and the BigFreeBet Cup, fielded a side that comprised a number of their junior players.
Although the visitors had one early free kick from a dangerous position – which Dean Ager aimed straight at keeper Michael Johnson – Hitchin made the early running with Trey Charles seeing a lot of the ball as he ran at the defence.
After Blues keeper Tyler McCarthy came out of his goal and failed to collect a cross, Dan Webb’s shot was cleared off the line by a defender.
Hitchin were not to be denied and the goal, just before the half hour, was straightforward. Connor Vincent battled well to win a corner and, from Charlie Smith’s delivery, Charles applied the finishing touch with a well-placed header.
Elliot Bailey went close with another header, connecting with a Smith free kick, but a second goal did follow five minutes after the first. It was created by Vincent who turned off his defender to deliver a pacy low cross. Trey Charles was on hand again to poke the ball home to double the lead.
The Canaries were not finished and added a third before half time. Vincent finally got a reward for his first half endeavour as he advanced on goal. McCarthy tried to clear but the striker returned the ball past the flailing keeper!
HALF TIME – Hitchin Town 3 Bishops Stortford 0
Stortford had a golden chance to claw back into the game seconds after the restart but Jason Williams was guilty of a miss when it seemed easier to score. At the other end, Hitchin’s best effort was a blocked effort by Bailey after good work by Syme and Smith, while McCarthy saved again from Vincent.
The game was becoming fractious as the referee had words with Lewis Rolfe and Joe Ryan. However a rush of blood in the 68th minute saw Walster stamp on a Stortford player, sparking a needless melee between the two sides. The end result was a straight red card for the full back and a yellow card for Williams who had been quick to get involved.
Williams was possibly still incensed when he flattened Dan Webb as the two went for an aerial challenge. The referee had to produce a second card which saw Williams follow Walster down the tunnel!
Substitute Afolabi Akwyemi, who had looked dangerous in the previous meetings between the sides, was the most likely source of a goal for the Blues and cut in from the left to deliver a shot that flew just wide of the Hitchin post but, in truth, the game was already up for the visitors.
Mark Burke introduced all three substitutes with seven minutes to play. Jimmy Hartley forced a save out of McCarthy with a fierce angled shot, while Kieran Barnes and Patrick Tshikala combined well just before the final whistle.
Hitchin now await the winner of tomorrow’s tie between Boreham Wood and Stevenage to find who their quarter final opponent will be while their next fixture is a trip to Dorset to play Dorchester Town this Saturday.
Full time – Hitchin Town 3 Bishops Stortford 0
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Syme, Walster, Rolfe, Webb, Bickerstaff, Charles, Kirkpatrick, Vincent, Bailey, Smith; subs – Hartley (for Vincent), Barnes (for Bailey), Tshikala (for Charles)
Bishops Stortford – McCarthy, Casey, Rogers, Thomas, Brassington, Robinson, Mason, Ryan, Williams, Ager, Taylor; subs – Foxley, Westcott (for Ryan), Akwtemi (for Mason), Ekpiteta
Hitchin Town – Charles (29, 34), Vincent (42)
Bishops Stortford – Williams
Hitchin Town – Walster
Bishops Stortford – Williams
Attendance – 143