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Halesowen Town 1 Hitchin Town 3

Saturday, December 11 2004

After a week of turmoil at Top Field, Hitchin's players gave new boss Darren Salton the best possible start to his Southern League career - three points at one of the division's high-flyers.

Hitchin are becoming a surprise act away from home. They have beaten Chippenham, Histon and Halesowen on their travels although their home form has been patchy. Salton was delighted at the way his team responded to news of budget cuts and an uncertain future. This was no lucky win, it was full deserved.

A player earmarked as one for the future, Shane Hill, gave the Canaries a third minute lead, shooting home from close range after Mark Bridge sent over a cross. Although Halesowen, previously unbeaten at home, asserted themselves, they failed to seriously trouble Richard Wilmot in the Hitchin goal.

Hitchin defended well, with Mark Smith and Lee McCulloch in fine form. Further up field, Bridge had one of those afternoons when he chased everything. All-in-all, Salton's men worked tirelessly to prove a point.

In the 61st minute, the Canaries extended their lead, Bridge had a shot that was blocked and amid the goalmouth scramble, Darran Hay shot into the net. To minutes later, Hay was set clear on goal, but his effort was saved by Chris Taylor.

Halesowen reacted with vigour and Wilmot pulled off a good save from Simon Forsdick. Nick Amos also had a header that just cleared the Hitchin crossbar.

Nine minutes from the end, Hitchin sealed their victory when Aaron Cavill rifled home his first goal for the club after Bridge's first effort was saved. But two minutes later, Dave Haywood's corner was headed home by Steve Pope for what proved to be nothing but a consolation goal for the home side.

Hitchin Town: Wilmot, Old, Kidd (Hassan 28), Smith, McCulloch, Baldry, Cavill, Hill, Hay, Bridge, Hutton

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