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Hitchin Town 1 Halesowen Town 2

Saturday, December 29 2007

The annual visit of Halesowen to Top Field promised much, not least because the Canaries, prior to kick-off, were unbeaten in league games against the curiously nicknamed Yeltz.

To add to the occasion, three former Hitchin players were included in the Halesowen squad: former favourite's Zema Abbey and Dean Brennan; and the precocious Shane Hill. While respect was shown to Abbey, and Brennan didn't get on the pitch, Hill, upon being substituted, decided to ignore the season of goodwill to all men and take his former supporters to task.

That was the full extent of the impact made by former Hitchin men. Abbey, although an aerial threat, has far longer teeth than when he donned the yellow shirt and it was his striking partner, Eldon Maquemba, who stole the show. In midfield, the meaty Darren Caskey was man of the match, strolling through the game and running operations. Hitchin had no answer to such experience.

These are anxious times at Top Field and manager Darran Hay deserves to be rewarded for his commitment. But by the end of the game, the anguish on Hay's face was there for all to see. He needs time and the clock is starting to tick faster and faster.

Maquemba was a threat in the first half and he forced Ricky Perks to dive full length to tip the ball wide of the goal. Then he missed a sitter, rounding Perks but shooting into the side-netting. Two let-offs for the Canaries, but after 44 minutes, they shocked everyone - including the home fans - by taking the lead. Gordon Barr finished the move off, scoring his first goal for the club, but it was a pinpoint cross by Wayne Mills that made it happen. Even after the goal, Hitchin survived another scare, a Shane Paul cross deflecting against the crossbar and rebounding unfavourably for Maquemba.

Brett Donnelly in action .. 

But Halesowen were soon level, Paul side-footing under Perks' body from 20 yards. From that point, Hitchin were decidedly second best and Halesowen were comfortably in control. They netted their winner after 66 minutes when Maquemba drove home from 10 yards after Caskey played the ball into the area.

Hitchin Town: Perks, Mountford, Nash, Barr, Gilbert, Pepper, Olaleye (Hay 80), Deeney, Donnelly (Pringle 64), Armstrong, Mills (Kenneford 75)

Halesowen Town: Osborn, Lycett, Perpetuini, Pearce, Pierpoint, Hill (Denny h/t), Paul, Caskey, Abbey, Maquemba, Hicks

Attendance: 366

Referee: P.Martin


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