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Hitchin Town 2 Maidenhead United 1

Tuesday, December 12 2006

Wonderkid Scott Orphanou did it again as Hitchin came from behind once more to win three hard-earned points in their pursuit of the BGB Premier Division title.

Self-belief is growing at Top Field after Darren Saltonís side turned a half-time deficit around, no for the first time this season. And Orphanou, a home grown hero in every sense of the word, maintained his impressive record of scoring vital goals. Although only 17, and waif-like in appearance, the†former Hitchin Town Youth player has earned the Canaries eight points with his late goals. How vital they might prove in the final reckoning.

Hitchin fans would have settled for a play-off place at the start of the season Ė indeed manager Salton had targeted a position of between second and fifth, but such is the momentum at Hitchin at present that the championship does not look beyond the Canaries.

For 45 minutes, however, it looked as though Maidenhead may spoil the party. A 22nd minute penalty by Dwane Lee had given the monied but under-achieving Magpies a first half lead. Hitchin had struggled to get into gear, but an injury to the referee meant there was a prolonged delay in finishing the half. After the break, Hitchin came out a different side, buoyed by the introduction of Mark Ducket.

On 49 minutes, Ryan Frater with a volley after Ducketís cross had been knocked on, was fired low into the net to equalise. An unlikely source, perhaps, but Frater has a fierce shot when he connects properly and this time he did. Frater, undoubtedly one of Hitchinís men of the first half of 2006-07, had two further chances to score.

Orphanou came on the scene with eight minutes to go, replacing Josh Sozzo. Four minutes later, a free kick was only partially cleared and the youngster finished with a volley from just outside the six yard box. Hitchin fans feared for the safety of the starlet as his team-mates piled on him, but he emerged intact to celebrate another crucial goal.

Salton may consider buying in copious amounts of cotton wool to preserve his young player- in a season that is gathering momentum at some pace, Scott Orphanou is emerging as a player to watch. And Hitchin? The second half of the season promises to be very engaging as people start to believe that Saltonís side may just have what it takes to win promotion.

Hitchin: Beckwith, Frater, Gentle-King (Ducket h/t), Hammonds, Folds, Deeney, Williams, Miller, Dillon, Sozzo (Orphanou 82), Jaggard (Mills 90)

Maidenhead: Ramos, Nisbet, Parsons, Lee, Sterling, Hatton, Smith, Brown, OíConnor (Hughes 73), Telemaque (Osman 80), McNamara (Clarke 70)

Referee: C.Miller

Attendance: 256

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