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Hitchin Town 2 Atherstone Town 1

Saturday, November 7 2009

Hitchin Town went five points clear of the pack with this ugliest of ugly wins against a youthful Atherstone side that can claim they deserved at least a point.

Action - Hitchin v AtherstoneBut for a fertile five minute spell and a last minute penalty save by in-form Martin Bennett, Hitchin would have lost this game, and Canaries manager Colin Payne could only admit, “we were lucky today, no doubt about it.”

The Canaries, missing Mark Smith and with a reshaped side that left Ieuan Lewis on the bench, struggled to find their form, but with 10 games gone, a significant margin between them and second place Rothwell, and games in hand, Hitchin could not really have better prospects.

It was a lack lustre performance from the off and the opening goal, after 22 minutes, summed up Hitchin’s first half display. Ashley Grinham headed back to keeper Bennett but the ball rolled into the net, despite the efforts of Dean Gilbert to clear. Indeed, if Luyke Edwards had connected properly with a chance shortly afterwards, Hitchin’s plight would have worsened considerably.

It all looked a bit bleak at the interval, but the noise coming from the dressing rooms suggested that Messrs Payne and Williams were not going to tolerate another half like the first.

There were some brief glimmers of hope, notably when Jamie Arlick’s volley was saved by Nathan Woakes, but it was Richard Howell, who started the game for once, who brought the sides level.

In the 65th minute, a Grinham long throw fell into the area and the ball rolled to Howell, who shot low into the net.

Before Atherstone could regroup, Hitchin scored again in the 69th. Zak Burke, who had a quiet afternoon, turned and shot on the blind side low past Woakes.
The visitors came again, however, and Bennett pulled off a fine save from the dangerous Edwards.Martin Bennett, about to save a penalty

It looked as though Hitchin would hang on, despite growing pressure, but in the final minute, Atherstone were awarded a penalty. Bennett saved Dean Rathbone’s kick  (pictured right) and the resulting follow-up, after which he was mobbed by his team-mates. The stuff that promotion campaigns are made of – well at least that’s what the majority of an impressive 353 crowd were muttering as they filed out into Fishponds Road!

Hitchin Town (0)2 Atherstone Town (1)1
0-1 Grinham OG  22 mins
1-1 Howell 65 mins
2-1 Burke 69 mins

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Grinham, Williams (Velandia 68), Lee, Gilbert, Howell (Gentle-King 90), L.Donnelly, Arlick, Hammond (Lewis 58), Burke
Atherstone: Woakes, Murphy, Dainty, Guiney, Langdon, Bruce (Robinson 73), Hendrie (Fulford 73), Rathbone, Edwards, Keen, Roscorla

Attendance: 353 (20 from Atherstone)

Referee: S.Rea

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