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Hitchin Town 3 Chippenham Town 3

Tuesday, November 22 2005

Mark Bridge, Hitchin’s whole-hearted striker, made an immediate impact and changed the course of possibly the best game seen at Top Field this season.

Bridge, a popular figure with the Hitchin crowd, has seen his season punctuated by injuries. But when he came onto the field in the 70th minute, his first touch of the ball found the back of the net and brought the Canaries back into a game that was slipping away from them.

While manager Darren Salton must have been pleased with the way his team performed against one of the Southern League pace-setters, he may also have been equally frustrated at the way the Canaries let the lead slip twice.

Anyone walking into the near-deserted Top Field at kick-off time must have feared the game would struggle to reach half-time, such was the density of the fog. But 20 minutes into the game, it cleared and in the 27th minute, Josh Sozzo fired Hitchin into the lead after a corner was missed by Chippenham goalkeeper Chris Astley.

Two minutes later, Dave Gilroy, looking suspiciously offside, struck the crossbar after racing clear of the Hitchin defence and Sam Allison followed up to equalise.
Chippenham went ahead after 60 minutes, Gilroy unmarked as he met an Allison cross to score from close range.

Bridge arrived on the scene to replace Sozzo and hit a spectacular volley past Astley from 25 yards. There were more surprises three minutes later as Bridge was upended in the penalty area and Daniel French netted from the spot to give Hitchin the lead once more. Within seconds, however, Gary Thorne headed Chippenham level again.

Hitchin finished the stronger of the two sides, with Aaran Cavill, James Ayres and Glen Lamacraft all going close to giving the Canaries a winning goal. The point, though, was a good one, and it was just a pity that only 146 people witnessed a fine game.

Hitchin: Wilmot, J.Mills, Ayres, Hammonds, Lamacraft, Cavill, Lochhead, French, W.Mills (Hayes 53), Sozzo (Bridge 70), Pugh

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