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Hitchin Town 2 Basingstoke Town 2

Monday, August 25 2003

The Canaries may have lost their 100% record and their status as league leaders, but their performance against Basingstoke underlined the fighting spirit that has been injected into the Hitchin side this season.

Shorn of several key players, including Andy Douglas, Adam Parker, James Robinson and Chris Dillon, as well as the suspended Carl Drew and Dean Brennan, Hitchin were cruelly denied a fourth win when Basingstoke levelled in the 88th minute.

It was unjust in many ways, for in the second half, Hitchin deserved to be well ahead of the visitors, who provided formidable oppositon.

Hitchin took the lead after just six minutes, when Matt Nolan cross to the far post and Jon Bone netted his 50th goal for the club with a crisp volley. But in the 17th minute, Basingstoke equalised with a superb cross-cum-shot from James Lambert.

Basingstoke had the better of the latter stages of the first half, with Neville Roach causing problems for the Hitchin defence. But just before the break, Carl Williams was upended in the penalty area by goalkeeper Scott Tarr, only for the referee to ignore pleas for a spot-kick.

But the home fans in the healthy near-500 crowd were soon celebrating after the break as Nolan headed Hitchin back in front. A cross from Williams found Nolan and he sent his effort wide of Tarr from close range.

James Osborn with a piledriver was denied by Tarr and Nolanís glancing header was just wide of the target from Boneís cross as Hitchin asserted their authority. Then Nolan produced some sublime skill in flicking the ball past a defender before sending a scissor kick against the crossbar. Nolan also had a chip saved by Tarr.

The Basingstoke custodian caused some outcry when he appeared to handle the ball outside of the penalty area, but the referee considered that he had headed the ball clear. Seconds later, though, Craig Rydeheard failed to clear a ball and Craig McAllister whipped his shot first time past Steven Graham.

It was an excellent finish, rough justice on the Canaries, but 10 points out of 12 is a very good start to the campaign.

Hitchin: Graham, Childs, Rydeheard, Frater, Ayres, Scott, Osborn, Bone (Mills 90), Maynard, Nolan, Williams




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