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Hemel Hempstead 4 Hitchin Town 2

Monday, April 13 2009

Hitchin’s nerves took a battering at Hemel in a disastrous bank holiday encounter with spirits running high on and off the pitch.

There was a good deal of frustration all round as Hitchin had to reshape their side at short notice after the non-appearance of centre half Ollie Thorne. Thorne’s absence - in a game that will rank among the most important this season for the Canaries - meant manager Colin Payne had to bring in half-fit Marcus Rose and play him alongside Paul Olima in defence. It was hardly the ideal preparation for Payne’s side.

Hitchin gave Hemel a dream start with two goals in the first nine minutes. In the second minute, Anthony Thomas drove forward, brushing aside Rose, and shot into the net. Seven minutes later, it was 2-0 after David Deeney’s high ball resulted in Ashley Grinham bundling over Nathan Bowden-Haase in the area. Drew Roberts scored from the penalty spot, despite Martin Bennett’s efforts to stop the kick.

Hitchin dragged themselves back into the game in the 13th minute, Mark Barnes shooting home after Brendan Gallen’s corner had been flicked on by Kieron St.Aimie.

Hemel had countless chances in the first half, and if their finishing had been better, they might have gone it at half-time with at least a three goal advantage. But ironically, it was in Hitchin’s only other worthwhile attack that Barnes almost levelled the scores, only denied by the gloves of Nick Law.

Hitchin’s recovery was killed off six minutes into the second half when Sonny French set up Adam Martin whose shot took a deflection of St.Aimie before sailing over Bennett.

In the 62nd minute, Hemel scored again, French’s cross being returned by Steve Wales and Nathan Bowden-Haase netted from close range.

It wasn’t until the 81st minute that Hitchin responded once more, James Edgerley’s cross was flicked on by St.Aimie and Olima finished well from the edge of the area.

A bad afternoon for Hitchin and one in which their normally patient fans vented their frustration. Three games to go, 270 minutes of nail-biting tension for the Canaries.

Hemel Hempstead (2)4 Hitchin Town (1)2

Hemel: Law, Yeboah, Herron (Butler 64), Bowden-Haase, Edgeworth, Deeney (Youngs 80), Wales, Martin, Roberts, Thomas (Kamara 58), French

Scorers: Thomas 2, Roberts 9-pen, Martin 51, Bowden-Haase 62

Hitchin: Bennett, Gallen, Grinham (Boateng 75), St.Aimie, Rose, Williams, Lewis (Boateng 75), Stupple, Olima, M.Barnes, E’Beyer (Edgerley 54)

Scorers: M.Barnes 13, Olima 81

Attendance: 351

Referee: P.Forrester

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