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Hitchin Town 3 Harrow Borough 2

Saturday, August 16 2003

Drama all the way! That’s what Hitchin fans got in the Canaries opening Ryman League fixture of the season as they turned around a two goal deficit to clinch victory deep into injury time.

It was too much too bear for some and even stand-in manager Ian Donnelly was dumbfounded at the final whistle. "We kept on battling right until the final whistle," he said. "It might not have been pretty, but we’ve got an important win."

The Canaries fell behind in the fourth minute when Ryan Frater slipped up in defence and Abdul Yoki sent a 25-yard shot past James Robinson. Hitchin almost levelled in the 19th minute, but Chris Dillon’s shot rolled against a post and away from danger.

Hitchin looked uncomfortable in defence and overrun in midfield in the first half, and in the 45th minute, Ross Fitzsimon extended Harrow’s lead after running 30 yards and sending his effort wide of Robinson.

It looked grim for Donnelly’s men, but the introduction of Ian Scott in the 58th minute changed the game. Scott may be at the veteran stage of his career, but he remains Hitchin’s best pass-in-chief. If Scott was the master, then James Osborn is clearly the up-and-coming apprentice, and the former Luton youngster again showed what a good summer signing he was.

Scott went close with a piledriver that Matthew Fergsuon pushed over the bar. In the 67th minute, however, Ferguson was beaten by Andy Douglas, who finished from close range after Adam Parker mis-hit his shot.

Hitchin were back in the game, but they had to scrap hard, for Harrow rarely gave an inch. Five minutes from the end, Scott’s free kick landed in the penalty area and a cluster of yellow shirts seemed to follow the ball into the net. Parker accepted the congratulations, being the last to force the ball over the line.

There was still more theatrics to come. A 17-man brawl, which looked quite nasty, could have sent several players for an early shower, but only Harrow’s Steve Dogbe was dismissed.

Hitchin took advantage almost immediately and Scott’s pinpoint pass found Dillon, who beat a defender and slotted the ball into the net for the winner. What a story to tell holidaying manager Robbie O’Keefe and his assistant Kerry Dixon. They have a hard act to follow - Donnelly has a 100% record after two competitive games!

Hitchin: Robinson, Childs (Scott 58), Rydeheard, Frater (Bone 89), Ayres, Coll, Osborn, Nolan, Douglas, Parker, Dillon

Attendance: 323

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