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Arlesey Town 1 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, April 3 2010

Canaries manager Colin Payne was right when he said this game was a "tricky local derby". Hitchin may have won, securing the "double" over their neighbours, but Arlesey gave them an uncomfortable afternoon.

The name Burke is synonymous with Hitchin's finest moments over the past 25 years, but the former stalwart defender, Mark, never scored the sort of goal that his namesake, Zak, netted for the Canaries nine minutes from time.

Burke's goal, which owed as much to the fragility of Arlesey's strapped-up keeper Ian Brown, gave Hitchin a crucial win just as it seemed they had thrown away two points.

Arlesey started the game well and camped in Hitchin's half. Martin Bennett saved from Chris Marsh as the Arlesey forward raced through and then former Hitchin favourite saw a far post header cleared off the line. Abbey also had a diving header saved after good work on the flank by the impish Adam Watkins.

Hitchin survived this early onslaught and started to threaten Brown's goal. Jamie Arlick's volley was blocked and then Jon Stevenson unwittingly sent the ball goalwards from a corner only for Brown to palm it off the goalline.

Arlick found the net on 33 minutes when Richard Howell's shot was parried by Brown and Hitchin's leading scorer turned and shot home in off the post. Two minutes later, Arlesey's Marsh had the ball in the net, but the assistant referee's flag had already unfurled as he ran through.

Harry Hunt and Tony Fontenelle both had chances blocked at the start of the second period, but the momentum built up in the last half hour of the first half started to evaporate. In fact, Arlesey seemed to grow in confidence and Marsh, in full flight, was blocked twice by Bennett.

The warning signs were there for Hitchin and in the 68th minute, Arlesey equalised through Watkins. He received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, evaded two defenders and shot past Bennett from six yards. There was another scare a few minutes later when Abbey sent a far post header just wide of the Hitchin goal.

Hitchin regained the upper hand and in the 81st minute, Burke's corner sailed to the far post and Brown helped it into the net to spark off prolonged celebrations by the Canaries' players. Burke almost added another two minutes later, crashing a shot against the crossbar after his first effort was saved by Brown, who also prevented Lewis and Arlick from scoring in the dying seconds.

So Hitchin's nerve-wracking pursuit of promotion continues, but their composure was severely tested by their local rivals.

To see a photo gallery of this game, click here

Arlesey Town (0)1 Hitchin Town (1)2

0-1 Arlick 33 mins; 1-1 Watkins 67 mins; 1-2 Burke 81 mins

Arlesey: Brown, Sinclair, Turner (Garner 81), Leach, Kavanaugh, Gregson, Watkins, Reynolds, Abbey, Marsh, O'Sullivan (Frater 58)
Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Fontenelle, Williams, Smith, Gilbert, Lewis, Stevenson (Lee 75), Arlick, Hunt (Hammond 75), Howell (Burke 66)

Attendance: 492 (approx. 250 from Hitchin)
Referee: P.Forrester

Photo Gallery courtesy of Geoff Chapman - click link to view



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