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Banbury United 2 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, January 14 2006

Hitchin maintained their unbeaten record in 2006 with a deserved point at high-flying Banbury, but the Canaries could have come away from the Spencer Stadium with all three.

This was Hitchin’s most accomplished away performance of the season. The recent new additions to Darren Salton’s squad have clearly made a difference, although with Northampton midfielder David Hicks’ loan period ending, Salton must be wishing that he could hang onto the talented youngster just a little longer.

For most of the campaign, Hitchin have been eyeing the bottom end of the table nervously, but the recent upturn in form has prompted ambitious glances towards the play-off zone. The way the Canaries played at Banbury suggests that talk of a relegation struggle is without foundation.

Hitchin took the lead after 15 minutes when Aaran Cavill started a move just inside the Banbury half. Josh Sozzo returned the ball to Cavill and he toe-poked the ball past Banbury goalkeeper Simon Tricker.

But within two minutes, Banbury levelled through Matthew Gooderick, who netted from close range after a goalmouth scramble. Banbury then took the lead in the 26th minute when Liam Folds handballed in the area and penalty expert Adie Fuller scored from the spot.

If Hitchin felt aggrieved to be behind at the interval, it certainly showed in the second half. The Canaries laid siege on the Banbury goal and Sozzo, Daniel French and Thomas Hayes all had chances to score. The muddy surface played its part in hampering Hitchin, however, and Sozzo and Hayes both lost their footing when shaping up to shoot.

The equaliser came in the 69th minute, French squaring the ball to Sozzo, who calmly shot home from inside the area. There looked to be one winner from thereon, but five minutes from time, James Ayres brought down a Banbury player on the edge of the area. The home fans pleaded for a penalty, but a free kick and a red-card for Ayres was the outcome. In the closing stages, Richard Wilmot had to be at his best to stop an effort from Stuart Bridges, but Hitchin held on for a good point.

Hitchin: Wilmot, Lochhead, Okai, Ayres, Folds, Hicks, Daniels (Hayes 58), Cavill, French (W.Mills 90), Sozzo, Ducket




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