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Brackley Town 3 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, February 9 2008

Mark Smith has become something of a messianic figure as far as Hitchin fans are concerned, but whether he can prove to be the Canaries' saviour in the coming weeks, time will tell.

Now 40 years old, Smith is arguably fitter and a more skilled practitioner than many of his team-mates, and against Brackley, he was one of the best players on the pitch.

While Smith tried his hand at stopping and scoring goals, another new signing, Paul Barnes, stood watching his new club in action. With Smith and Barnes, and possibly another new player, Darran Hay is building his team for a last roll of the dice this season.

There are 15 games to go and Hitchin must win at least half of them. After beating Bashley in midweek, the Canaries might have expected a strong showing at Brackley, but the home side got off to the perfect start. Moses Olaleye fouled Scott Hadland and the same player netted from the penalty spot after just four minutes.

For a while, it looked as though Hitchin would get back on level terms. Iuean Lewis was lively throughout the 90 minutes, and in the first period, he went close with a header.

But the Canaries' task was made doubly difficult in first half added time when Jerome Anderson scored after Ricky Perks had stopped his first effort.

In the 55th minute, Anderson scored again, volleying home from close range.

Hitchin looked finished, but they were given the chance to stage a comeback in the 64th minute when Ricky Miller's shot was handled in the area. Jon Stevenson scored from the penalty spot.

Nine minutes later, Hitchin were awarded a second penalty, Miller being upended by Josh Green, who was sent off. This time, Stevenson's kick was saved by Brackley keeper Richard Knight.

Late in the game, Mark Kenneford and Smith both had chances to score, but there was too much to do in too little time.

Brackley: Knight, Richards, Murphy, S.Hadland (G.Hadland 70), Brown (Love 77), Green, Kearns, Savage, Dunkley (Spencer 65), Anderson, Winters

Hitchin: Perks, Pepper, Mountford, Stevenson, Gilbert (Beale 65), Smith, Lewis, Deeney (Mills 47), Donnelly (Kenneford 69), Miller, Olalaye

Attendance: 262

Referee: N.Radford



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