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Hitchin Town 0 Bognor Regis Town 0

Saturday, September 30 2006

HITCHIN kept only their second clean sheet of the season, but it was a case of "opportunity lost" as the Canaries drew with Conference South side Bognor Regis in this entertaining FA Cup tie.

There is little doubt that Jack Pearce’s side were happier with the draw than Hitchin, as a replay on the south coast represents a stiff hurdle. And with injuries piling up for Darren Salton, the task has been made even harder.

Hitchin went into this game without their leading scorer Chris Dillon. Without Dillon, Hitchin lacked the necessary edge up front. Wide-man Carl Williams was thrust into an unfamiliar striking role in Dillon’s place, but he was a stranger to front-line action.

In a lively first half, Hitchin made all the chances, notably in the eighth minute when a cross to the far post by Daniel French was met by Neil Pugh and his effort struck the outside the post.
French was instrumental in all Hitchin’s best moves. He went close when he chipped the ball goalwards but goalkeeper Craig Stoner palmed the ball away from the danger.

In the 28th minute, Hitchin thought they had scored when Neil Pugh’s header was deflected into the net by a defender but the referee had already blown for an infringement. Just prior to the interval, Williams shot across goal from a tight angle and Andy Ross saw his long-range drive saved by Stoner.

Jaggard sprawls against Bognor

Gavin Jaggard goes sprawling

The second half was a different story as Bognor demonstrated some of their Conference South credentials. Michael Parkin was called upon to stop an early effort from Ben Watson, and then save a low shot from Richard Hudson. Then in-form Luke Nightingale turned and shot over the bar as Bognor piled on the pressure.

But the best chance of the game fell to Bognor with 12 minutes remaining, and Pearce and his players will not willingly watch replays of the incident. Parkin did well to stop a header from Ben Johnson, but the ball rolled invitingly to Hudson, who only had to apply the faintest of touches to score. But he shot wide from no more than six yards and Hitchin were reprieved.

Hitchin mustered up a chance with eight minutes to go, but David Deeney’s shot was way too high. Bognor had another chance in stoppage time, but nobody could turn home Johnson’s pass into the area.
A draw was a fair result, but the tie suddenly that much harder for the Canaries.

Hitchin: Parkin, Cretton, Ducket (Lamacraft 49), Frater, Folds, Deeney, Pugh (Bridge 69), Ross, Williams, Jaggard, French

Bognor: Stoner, Piper, Rowland, Budd (Wallis-Taylor 64), Pearce, Tuck, Watson (Johnson 73), Howell, Hudson, Nightingale, Beck

Referee: I.J. Cooper

Attendance: 356 

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