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Hitchin Town 2 Merthyr Tydfil 2

Saturday, February 28 2009

On any other day, a draw against a play-off chasing side would be seen as a major achievement. Indeed, a point against one of the Canaries bogey sides, should be seen as some sort of progress. But with the league table continuing to look menacing, Hitchin are in desperate need of a victory....against anyone.

But on the positive side, the Canaries put in a good 90 minutes against a top six side for the second successive home game. Just 10 days after drawing with Corby, Colin Payne’s reshaped side more than held its own against similar opposition – the portents are good for the final run-in.

In addition to the point, there are signs that some young players are emerging who may become big favourites on the fabled wooden terracing. The goalscorers, Jon Munday and Jeff Hammond, are two who could go on to win the hearts and minds of the Top Field faithful. Hammond scurried all afternoon and deserved the goal that saved the day. He might have had more.

The diminutive striker struck a post in the first five minutes of an opening half that was Hitchins. It was the first of two woodwork-saving moments for Merthyr as lanky new signing Paul Olima headed against the bar just before the interval.

Jeff Hammond about to score against Merthyr

Merthyr had two good chances in the first period, a glancing header by Craig Steins and a volley over the bar by Dean Clarke.

Hitchin went ahead in the 51st minute, Jon Munday heading home from a high cross by Mark E’Beyer. Munday went close just afterwards but saw a close range shot blocked by the Merthyr defence.

One of Hitchin’s main weapons was the long throw-ins of Ashley Grinham. The “Grinham hurl” caused problems for the Merthyr defence throughout and ultimately saved the day for the Canaries.

Merthyr equalised in the 62nd minute when Steins, always a threat to Hitchin, stabbed the ball into the net after Sam O’Sullivan’s effort was parried by Martin Bennett.

Steins was at it again in the 67th minute, heading into the net from six yards after Matt Harris’s cross was flicked on by Mike Jones.

Three minutes later, Hitchin equalised when Grinham’s throw landed in the six yard box and Hammond somehow turned the ball into the net.

Hammond could have grabbed a winner for the Canaries in the 75th minute when he raced onto a long ball by Paul Marks, but shot wide.

A draw was a fair result and Hitchin will be encouraged by one of their best home displays of the season.

Hitchin Town (0)2 Merthyr Tydfil (0)2

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Grinham, Munday, McDevitt, Williams, Lewis, E’Beyer, Hammond (George 89), Olima (M.Barnes 62), Stevenson

Scorers: Munday 51, Hammond 70

Merthyr: R.Griffiths, Harris, Keddle, Hartshorn, D.Griffiths, Rewbury, Evans, Clarke, O’Sullivan, (Gullimore 87), Steins, Jones

Scorer: Steins 62, 67

Attendance: 288

Referee: S.Maynard

Photo: Brian Gray

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