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Hitchin Town 1 Mangotsfield United 0

Saturday, January 26 2008

It wasn't a classic, and few people will remember much about the game, but this could be one of the most important Hitchin victories in years.

That is, if it triggers off the long-awaited revival that will steer Hitchin away from danger. The reaction at the end of the game, however, from both manager Darran Hay and his players, as well as the Canaries fans, said it all, really. There was an air of relief and a feeling that this win just might kick-start Hitchin's recovery programme.

With 19 games remaining, Hitchin have to win at least eight and if some of them are against teams as shot shy as Mangotsfield, then they have a genuine chance.

Hay had his players in early on Saturday and rang a few changes in his starting line-up. It seemed to work, for there was a determined, industrious air about the Canaries. Mark Ducket returned after a lengthy lay-off and Jon Stevenson was switched to defence.

Hitchin started well, with Darrell Ellams sending a cross-cum-shot arrowing across the face of the Mangotsfield goal. An overhead kick by Dean Gilbert and a Paul Amrstrong shot were both saved by Mangotsfield goalkeeper Jamie Clapham.

Ducket shot into the side-netting before he created the match-winning goal. A free kick from the left found Stevenson and he volleyed into the net from 10 yards.

The second half was even less inspiring with Mangotsfield going close with a Jon French effort that was deflected for a corner. Armstrong and Tom Pepper both had half chances that failed to trouble the Mangotsfield defence.

Ten minutes from time, Ellams was injured in a challenge that stopped Jake Reid from getting a shot in. So victory was at a cost, for Ellams may be out for the rest of the season.

Hitchin: Perks, Papper, Ellams (Beale 84), Williams, Gilbert, Stevenson, Olaleye, Deeney, Pringle (Miller 68), Armstrong, Ducket (Donnelly 68)

Mangotsfield: Clapham, Arndale, Bailey, Thorne, Milsom (Crew 15), Ball, Wilmot (Douglas 72), Mowatt, Griffin, Reid, French
Referee: M.Blackledge

Attendance: 297

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