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Hitchin Town 1 St Albans City 4

Tuesday, July 29 2008

Notwithstanding that St.Albans were a class above Hitchin and fully deserved their victory, the Canaries were not helped by a sub-optimal refereeing performance in the Herts Charity Cup.

Not for the first time in recent years, county officiating contributed to Hitchin's downfall in the traditional curtain-raiser to the new campaign. Referee Mr Rock was certainly charitable in his decision to award St.Albans a penalty that never was. Arguably, it killed off the Canaries as they tried to get back into the game.

Hitchin won't come up against many sides as well drilled as St.Albans this coming season. They took the lead on 19 minutes when the unmarked Paul Hakim headed past Martin Bennett from a Jon Hunt free kick.

Shortly afterwards, good work by Paul Barnes created a chance for Luke Gregson, but he blasted the ball over the bar.

The Saints could have easily extended their lead through Lee Clarke, who had two efforts to score, notably when he flicked the ball over Bennett but saw his effort sail wide.

Hitchin equalised four minutes from the interval, and in truth didn't really deserve to be on level terms. It was a good move, however, that brought Paul Barnes another goal in his impressive pre-season. A good through ball by Jon Woolf found Mark Barnes on the flank and he sent a low pass inside to his brother who slid his shot past Paul Bastock.

But the visitors regained the lead just after the break, Hassan Sulaiman rounding Michael Cox and passing to Sean Ridgway who shot home from just inside the area.

In the 73rd minute, Hitchin were dealt a considerable blow when Lee Clarke fell in the penalty area and Mr Rock pointed to the penalty spot. Not a single Hitchin player had touched Clarke. Hunt netted with his penalty kick.

Four minutes from time, St.Albans rounded off the evening with a superb strike from substitute Rod Hicks.

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Cox, Gregson, Gilbert, Smith, Woolf, Stupple (Gross 68), P.Barnes, M.Barnes (Bull 68), Wilson (Barr 21)

St.Albans: Bastock, Fisher, Cousins, Bowditch (Archer 60), Martin, Quilter, Sulaiman (Eames 75), Ridgway, Hakim, Clarke, Hunt (Hicks 84)

Referee: D.Rock
Attendance: 186



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