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Hitchin Town 3 Yate Town 1

Tuesday, April 7 2009

Hitchin may want to thank two Yate Town players when the dust settles on this traumatic season.

Firstly Dean Griffiths, for his dramatic open goal miss that, if the game had been televised, would be a contender for “what happened next?”, and secondly defender Aron Robbins for the own goal that changed this game.

But for these pivotal moments, the Canaries might have been anxiously contemplating another fortnight of nail-biting as the relegation battle plays out on an almost daily basis. As it happened, this win may be the one that keeps Hitchin in the BGB Premier.

Naturally, Top Field management are playing it cautiously, claiming another win should be enough, but it may not come to that. Yate, like Banbury a fortnight ago, may be closer to the drop after their trip to Hitchin.

Let’s not pretend this was a classic encounter. Tension pervaded every inch of Top Field before and during the game. In a month of cup finals, this was definitely a game that Hitchin could not afford to lose. But for a while, it looked a possibility.

Yate took the lead after 14 minutes when a Scott Brice free kick was played back across goal by Scott Duggan and Jake Reid shot home from close range.

Hitchin powered forward, with Liam Geoge missing from close range and Jon Munday seeing a header saved by Yate goalkeeper Lee Matthews. Keiron St.Aimie, in for the suspended Jeff Hammond, went close to opening his account when he curled a powerful shot against the post.

The second half deteriorated in terms of quality, and Hitchin seemed unable to find any rhythm. In the 58th minute, Griffiths sent an piledriver of a volley against the post from less than six yards. The ball rebounded against Griffiths and ricocheted wide. If that had gone in, Hitchin would have been beaten.

But enter James Edgerley. The young midfielder, who would not look out of place in an Argentine World Cup squad of the late 1970s, applied a touch to a Mark E’Beyer cross that was eventually headed home by Yate defender Robbins. It was the sort of stroke of luck Hitchin needed and with Edgerley adding some vim and vigour to the proceedings, Hitchin started to come alive once more.

With a minute to go Des Boateng threaded the ball through to Mark Barnes and he turned a slotted past Lee Matthews from 10 yards. Barnes discarded his shirt  - as trademarked a celebration for the chirpy striker as Shearer’s raised hand salute – and received a yellow card. But it was worth it, for the cheers that accompanied the goal suggested a bigger crowd than 245.

Before Yate could launch a recovery, Hitchin scored again. Barnes ran through on goal and was brought down by Robbins, ending a sad night for the full back as he was sent to the dressing rooms for an early bath. Edgerley, sensing a rousing finale, sent his free kick wide of the dispirited wall. More celebrations…more relief…and more points in the bag. Payne and his determined team have almost pulled it off…not that anyone was prepared to confirm that!

Hitchin Town (0)3 Yate Town (1)1

Hitchin: Bennett, Rose (Boateng 66), Grinham, Munday, Thorne, George (Edgerley 70), Lewis, Stupple, St.Aimie (Olima 90), M.Barnes, E’Beyer

Scorers: Robbins OG 72, M.Barnes 89, Edgerley 90

Yate Town: Matthews, Metitiri, Robbins, Ward, Brice, White, Duggan, Vahid, Reid, Griffiths, Whittington (Beadle h/t)

Scorer: Reid 14

Attendance: 245
Referee: B.O’Sullivan

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