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Halesowen Town 3 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, March 14 2009

The run-in to the end of April now awaits Hitchin, and a vital four-match sequence at Top Field that will shape their season after this stunning defeat at Halesowen Town.

Not for the first time, the Canaries were left in pieces after a second half collapse. Just a few weeks ago, Hitchin let a three-goal lead at Rugby disintegrate in the travesty of a second half - against Halesowen, it was a two-goal advantage that was thrown away to give the home side all three points.

Colin Payne and his players were devastated at the final whistle, but it was clear to everyone that inexperience let the Canaries down once more. Whatever happens in the final 12 games, when this season is consigned to history and the post mortem takes places, it will be on the playing fields of Rugby and Halesowen that 2008-09 will be judged.

Hitchin played some very good football in the opening 45 minutes and thoroughly deserved their two-goal lead. So frustrated were the troubled home side that their fans jeered them off at half-time.

The first goal came on 40 minutes, Paul Olima feeding Jeff Hammond and he slipped the ball to Des Boateng who fired home in style.

Four minutes later, Hammond netted his fourth goal in half a dozen games, shooting inside Nick Bussey’s left hand post after being teed-up by Olima.

Half-time changed everything. While Hitchin’s followers spoke of avoiding relegation on the basis of an encouraging first 45 minutes, Halesowen’s fans were talking of revolution. But five minutes into the half, a free kick was given away on the edge of the Hitchin area and Aaron Cornwall - who has always impressed against the Canaries - shot home with a well-taken free kick.

Boateng could have added a third for Hitchin before that man Cornwall struck again in the 64 minutes. A free kick exponent with a full range of tricks, this time he curled his left foot effort where no-one was expecting it to go and suddenly, Halesowen’s tails were up.

Hitchin, their confidence draining by the minute, were opened up in defence again with 13 minutes remaining, Cornwall passing to substitute Patrick Daval who took full advantage as he walked through and shot low under Luke Woods.

Mark Barnes went close in the dying seconds, but there was to be no fairy-tale ending. The drama moves to Top Field for the next two weeks…

Halesowen Town (0)3 Hitchin Town (2)2

Halesowen: Bussey, Choi, Allward, Clarke, Pearce, Hamilton, Taylor (O’Brien h/t), Denny, Shittu, Cornwall, Thomas (Daval)

Scorers: Cornwall 50, 64 Daval 77

Hitchin: Woods, Rose (Grinham 89), Pepper, McDevitt, Thorne, Williams, Lewis (George 89), E’Beyer, Hammond, Olima, Boateng (M.Barnes 82)

Scorers: Boateng 40, Hamond 44

Attendance: 408

Referee: S.Sharpe



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