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Gloucester City 4 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, April 18 2009

Could Hitchin have expected much better from their trip to high-flying Gloucester? The answer is probably no, but there is little doubt that dark clouds of gloom have descended upon the Canaries camp after this comprehensive defeat which looks set to extend the great relegation battle until the final minutes of the season.

James Edgerley takes a free kickHitchin went to Cirencester, the adopted home of Gloucester, with a patched up team of semi-fit players. Manager Colin Payne had to shuffle his pack, with a number of players appearing in unfamiliar roles and for a while, it looked to be working. It wasnít until the 34th minute that Mike Symons shot home following a corner to give the play-off bound Gloucester the lead. But six minutes later, it was 2-0 as a corner from Lee Smith caused panic and sailed into the net.

So, it was virtually game over at that point. After the break, Martin Bennett stopped a point blank effort from Luke Ballinger and the ball was generally in the Hitchin half of the pitch. Hitchinís attack was taken care of by a strong Gloucester defence but there was a half chance for Mark Barnes created by Kieron St.Aimie early in the second half.

But Gloucester sealed their victory with two goals in quick succession. Alex Sykes, who first played against Hitchin a decade ago, scored both, with crisp efforts that were as good as anything seen this season. The first was a neat finish in the 52nd minute, although Hitchin made it easy for the midfielder to score from six yards, and the second was a long range effort from 25 yards that Bennett didnít get a scent of.

Hitchinís only consolation came in the 90th minute from St.Aimie, rounding defender and stranded keeper before slotting home with aplomb. If only that had come earlier in the game.

Two heavy defeats in a week suggest that Hitchinís battle has suddenly become more challenging. But when all is said and done, the Canariesí season has been shaped by disastrous afternoons in Rugby, Halesowen and on their own patch. Hitchin fans should remember that at 4.45pm next Saturday when the outcome is decided.

Gloucester City (2)4 Hitchin Town (0)1

Gloucester: Sawyer, Sykes, Marshall (Sysum 69), Mustoe, Richards, Rose (Harris 64), Smith, Webb, Morford, Symons (Pitcher 70), Ballinger

Scorers: Symons 35, Smith 40, Sykes 52, 58

Hitchin: Bennett, McArdle (St.Aimie h/t), Grinham, Edgerley, Rose, Williams, Lewis, Stupple, Hammond (Payne 75), M.Barnes (Doyle 82), Boateng

Scorer: St.Aimie 90

Referee: J.Law

Attendance: 295

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