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Merthyr Tydfil 3 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, September 20 2008

Hitchin let slip a half-time lead to lose an incident-packed game at Penydarren Park against bottom-placed Merthyr Tydfil. The Canaries had Marcus Gross sent-off in a disastrous second half.

But for goalkeeper Martin Bennett, Hitchin might have been over-run in the first 20 minutes. Merthyr went ahead after 10 minutes when Mike Jones had too much space and scored from close range.

Bennett then kept Merthyr at bay with a string of fine saves, denying Garry Shephard, Jones, Andy Thomas and Shephard again.

The game changed dramatically in the last 15 minutes of the half. Paul Barnes struck a post and Michael Cox followed up to score, but the referee ruled offside.

Barnes was the key to Hitchinís recovery, however. A poor back pass by Dean Clarke, from inside the Hitchin half, was latched onto by the whippet-like Barnes and he ran on to score a superb solo effort. Two minutes, Barnes scored again, netting from close range after a Lee Wilson pass.

Hitchin didnít hold their lead for long, though, for within a minute of the restart, Merthyr equalised, Shephard taking advantage of slack defensive work to score.

In the 55th minute, Marcus Gross was given a straight red card for a foul on Craig Steins. Hitchin were now up against it and in the 68th minute, Merthyr substitute Sam OíSullivan beat the offside trap and chipped the ball over Bennett to give the home side the lead once more.

There was a late chance for Luke Gregson, a header over the bar, but Hitchin didnít look likely to retrieve the situation.

Merthyr Tydfil (1)3 Hitchin Town (2)2

Merthyr: Delve, Williams, Keddle, Thomas, Griffiths, Rewbury, Evans, Clarke (OíSullivan 62), Shephard (Steins 50), Jones (Griffiths 79)

Goals: Jones 10, Shephard 46, OíSullivan 68

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Wilson, Stupple, Gross, Cox, Woolf (Draycott 77), Gregson, P.Barnes, M.Barnes (Barr 62), Sealey (Gilbert 56)

Goals: P.Barnes 43, 45


Referee: M.Pottage

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