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Hitchin Town 1 Rugby Town 1

Tuesday, September 2 2008

Four points from two games would have normally been an acceptable haul, but Hitchin are still looking for their first home win of the season after this eventful draw with BGB Premier strugglers Rugby Town.

Hitchin dominated the game but the answer to their problems was sitting in the stand - Paul Barnes, their talismanic front-man, was sidelined with an injury that forced him to miss the past two games. Had Barnes been on the pitch, the Canaries might have turned their superiority into goals.

As it was, Hitchin had the perfect opportunity to take a first half lead when they were awarded a 33rd minute penalty. Unfortunately, Lee Wilson crashed the ball against the crossbar.

From thereon, though, the chances came. Tyron Sealey, looking tricky in his first home game back at the club, send a low shot goalwards that was saved by Rugby goalkeeeper Andrew Stevens and Mark Barnes, after being set up by Ian Draycott, saw his shot deflected for a corner.

The latter stages of the first half were positively Wagnerian as the heavens opened. So bad was the rain and so aggressive the lightning, that referee Mr Bryan took the teams off the field - for around 20 seconds!

It was much the same in the second period as Hitchin started to put together some good moves. Jon Woolf shot across the face of goal and substitute Russell Bull hooked the ball wide after an incisive move involving Woolf. Following a corner, Draycott looked set to score but Steve Perton cleared the ball off the line. Sealey also went close, making space for himself and sending a right-foot drive against the angle of bar and post.

But then the unthinkable happened. Rugby, who had netted just one goal in five games, scored in the 75th minute when a Darren Dykes cross was headed in off the bar by Rory Curtis. Within a minute, however, Hitchin equalised when Bull missed an opportunity but the ball rolled back to Derwayne Stupple who sent a low and precise shot into the net.

Late in the game, Rugby substitute Avun Jephcott struck a post with a header and Carl Williams saw his close range effort saved by Stevens. Gordon Barr almost repeated his match-winning antics at Brackley but the referee had already flagged for offside.

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Wilson, Williams, Gilbert, Smith, Woolf (Barr 73), Stupple, M.Barnes (Bull 57), Draycott (Gregson 65), Sealey

Rugby: Stevens, Gordon, Perton, Scott, Herbert, King (Jephcott 76), Gearing, M.Taylor (Curtis 70), Kolodynski (Edge 70), Dykes

Attendance: 313

Referee: D.Bryan

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