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Hitchin Town 2 Hemel Hempstead 1

Thursday, January 1 2009

The New Year brought some cheer for the Canaries as they won their first home game in the league since April against one of the BGB Premier front-runners.

Hitchin's Liam McDevitt in action against Hemel Hempstead, January 1, 2009Hitchin refused to be over-awed by a team that has been tipped to claim at least a play-off place come the end of the season. Psychologically, the victory sets Darran Hayís men up for a difficult January, ending a run that was becoming a hurdle in itself.

Hemel came to Top Field with an impressive run of victories behind them, including a 3-1 win against league leaders, but the Canaries put in arguably their best performance of the campaign, combining fierce commitment with tactical savvy.

The first half was an even affair, and there were early warnings for Hitchin when Drew Roberts turned and shot past the post. Hemel also threatened when Nathan Bowden-Haase saw his header tipped over by Hitchin goalkeeper Martin Bennett. But Hitchin had their own chances in the first period, with Paul Barnes going close twice and Liam George denied by Hemelís Ian Brown.

In the closing stages of the half, recently signed Ollie Thorne went on a run from just inside the Hemel half and weaved past two defenders before creating a chance for Ieaun Lewis, but Brown pushed the ball for a corner. Thorneís performance throughout the 90 minutes earmarked him as a potential fans favourite in the second half of the campaign.

It didnít take long in the second half for Hitchin to take the lead. Carl Williams, who had an outstanding game, sent a 35 yard shot into the top corner of the net after the Hemel seemed to have cleared the danger. Williams doesnít score often, but this goal will count among his best ever - certainly one of the most vital.

The Canaries extended their lead on 62 minutes when Scott Balderson sent a low shot inside the area past a rather static Brown. For the first time this season, Hitchin now had the scent of victory on their own ground.

Hemelís frustration was very visible and when former Hitchin striker Chris Dillon was substituted in the 69th minute, there seemed to be an altercation on the visiting bench in which Dillon - uncharacteristically - showed his displeasure. Four minutes later, Roberts pulled a goal back for Hemel, a free header from a Chris Herron cross. This suggested a nervous last quarter of an hour, but Hitchinís defence remained intact. Paul Barnes, who demonstrated that his game is not just about goals with some unselfish running, almost added another goal when he hit a long range effort that was well handled by Brown, and although Roberts had a low shot saved, Hemel didnít look too dangerous in front of goal.

Hitchin Town (0)2 Hemel Hempstead (0)1

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Ellams, Williams, McDevitt, Thorne, Lewis, Stupple, P.Barnes (Tocco 82), Balderson (Gilbert 89), George (Bull 78)

Scorers: Williams 48, Balderson 62

Hemel: Brown, Wales ( Sinclair 69), Coulson, Martin, Bowden-Haase, Yeboah, Roberts, Deeney, Dillon (Edgeworth 69), Thomas, Herron

Scorer: Roberts 73

Attendance: 442

Referee: P.Barnes

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