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Chippenham Town 1 Hitchin Town 0

Tuesday, February 26 2008

Throughout this troubled season, there have not been many occasions when Hitchin can say, in all honesty, that they have been unlucky in defeat. Not this time, because at Hardenhuish, it was clearly a case of "floodlit robbery" as the Canaries more than matched a team with play-off aspirations.

For much of the 90 minutes, Hitchin looked the better side and should have been ahead long before Chippenham scored their winning goal.

The confidence gained from two successive wins was more than evident in this game and but for a little more conviction in front of goal. Hitchin might have come away from Wiltshire with at least a point. Manager Darran Hay was crestfallen at the end, but he can take consolation in the fact that his current team will fight for every point in the last 12 games.

Hitchin were not at full strength, with goalkeeper Ricky Perks injured and striker Marlon Campbell - who made a big impact at Rugby - unavailable. The Canaries survived an early scare when a cross by Sean Seavill was headed wide by David Pratt.

Paul Barnes showed his pace once more when he ran onto a Iuean Lewis through ball, rounded a defender and saw his shot pushed for a corner. In a good spell by Hitchin, Izzy Harusha also went close with a header.

Hitchinís best chance of the first half came when the ball rolled to Mark Ducket but his first time left-foot drive was just too tame to trouble goalkeeper Chris Snoddy. Luke Gregson, rapidly becoming a favourite with the Hitchin crowd, also went close with a shot that was gathered by Snoddy.

After the break, Chippenham had the upper hand in the opening stages, but didnít seriously trouble Martin Bennett in the Hitchin goal. In fact, Hitchin had the better chances and Snoddy was the busier custodian. Three players, Moses Olaleye, Gregson and Ducket all tried to get a shot in after the home defence had been breached, but the ball just would not roll kindly.

With 15 minutes remaining, Chippenham grabbed the winning goal, a free kick to the near post being headed home by Scott Lye. It was a cruel blow to Hitchin, who continued to press in the closing stages. The final touch just eluded them, but on the evidence of this display, the Canaries could win more than they lose in the last dozen fixtures - and that would be enough to stave off the drop.

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