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Bromsgrove Rovers 3 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, January 5 2008

A new year always brings hope for football supporters and Hitchin's loyal band went to Bromsgrove with fingers crossed that their 100% record in 2008 would continue. But despite playing against 10 men for an hour, the Canaries task of clawing away from the relegation zone received another blow at the Victoria Ground.

In many ways, this game encapsulated Hitchin's season - for half an hour, they were the better side, but after spurning a number of chances, their mistakes were punished and before they knew it, it was 3-1 and time for home.

Darran Hay gave a debut to Owen Beale, another refugee from Arlesey Town, and it was a tough debut for the slightly-built creative midfielder. Bromsgrove, while not exactly brutal, were a physical no-nonsense side that is adapting itself for its own relegation fight. Sometimes, their challenges were a little agricultural and one of the instigators, Dave Bridgwater, was awarded a pair of yellow cards for his over-exertion.

In truth, Hitchin could have been ahead before Bromsgrove got hold of the game. David Deeney had three free kicks that caused problems, notably when first he saw his piledriver saved by Karl Lewis and secondly when his low effort hit a post and almost rebounded off the Bromsgrove keeper and into the net.

Bridgwater went for his early shower in the 29th minute but within two minutes, Matt Birley had given Bromsgrove the lead. A quickly-taken free kick caught Hitchin off guard and the ball was rolled to Birley who fired home.

This meant Hitchin had no time to take advantage of the extra man, so the old cliché, that it is harder to play against 10, started to be uttered with regularity among the visiting fans. Just before the interval, Brett Donnelly saw his volley well saved by Lewis, who by now was on his way to winning the man of the match award.

Donnelly had better luck in the 50th minute, however, with a goal out of the blue, a sweet volley that found the top corner of the net.

Bromsgrove, who were repeatedly exposing Hitchin down the flanks, regained the lead after 60 minutes, Kevin Banner shooting past Ricky Perks from an acute angle. Five minutes later, Birley played in Sam Alsop and he scored in similar fashion to kill off any hope of a Hitchin comeback.

Hay put himself on in a bid to fire up his attack, but it was to no avail. Hitchin were faced with a long journey back from the Midlands. They're back there next Saturday when the next hurdle is monied Halesowen. It doesn't get any easier for Hay and his charges.

Bromsgrove: Lewis, Duggan, Hines, Bridgwater, Knight, Jones, Birley, Alsop, Jakab (Allbutt 89), Jackson, Banner

Hitchin: Perks, Barr (Nash 76), Mountford (Hay 73), Pepper, Gilbert, Deeney, Olaleye, Beale, Donnelly, Armstrong, Miller (Kenneford 68)

Attendance: 417

Referee: K.Hayward

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