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Hitchin Town 1 Hemel Hempstead 2

Tuesday, August 21 2007

A cruel 90th minute goal deprived Hitchin of the point they deserved against highly fancied Hemel Hempstead at Top Field.

Until then, Hitchin had more than held their own against a team that should be among the front-runners this season.

It was another industrious performance from the Canaries who looked solid in defence if lacking some quality in other departments of the team. But nobody could fault Hitchin's work-rate or willingness to fight for every ball.

The evening ended on a sour note in more ways than one, with defender Parys Okai carried off after a reckless challenge from former Hitchin favourite Josh Sozzo. The Hemel substitute had been on the pitch two minutes when he scythed Okai down incensing players and spectators alike.

The first half was similar to Saturday's win against Chippenham with little goalmouth action. Hemel's Drew Roberts shot into the side-netting while just before the interval, Shane Hill's 20 yard shot was pushed over the bar by Hemel goalkeeper Steve Smith.

Hitchin took the lead in the 48th minute when an audacious free kick by Carl Williams caught the Hemel defence off guard. This sparked Hemel to life and Okai cleared off the line from Dean Cracknell.

Hitchin had their chance to extend their lead when Hill broke from deep and created an opportunity for Richard Pringle, but his shot was wide.

In the 67th minute, Hemel equalised when Roberts set up Ollie Burgess and his low shot went beyond Ricky Perks in the Hitchin goal.

Perks kept Hitchin in the game with a superb save from Roberts and there were further efforts from the Hemel striker and scorer Burgess that the Canaries keeper kept out.

Hitchin's rhythm was unsettled by the foul on Okai in the 79th minute, although Lance Gentle-King went close with a header.

In added time, Hemel snatched victory when a free kick ran loose in the Hitchin area, Roberts touched the ball on and Burgess drove past Perks from 10 yards. Hemel made the most of their celebrations, they were aware they had performed a "smash and grab" raid on a gloomy night.

Hitchin: Perks, Deeney, Okai (L.Gentle-King 79), Frater, Childs,
Lamacraft, Williams, James (Hoyte 69), Pringle (Drew 61), Orphanou, Hill

Hemel: Smith, Kearns, Herron, Cracknell, Yeboah, Valenti (Martin 64), Burgess, Kean (Sinclair 61), Sippets (Sozzo 77), Roberts, Edgeworth

Referee: G.Russell

Attendance: 248

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