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Hitchin Town 1 Bedworth United 0

Wednesday, March 3 2010

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, as they say. Well actually, it was the 76th minute when the Canaries’ matchwinner, Jeff Hammond, came onto the field as a substitute for the unlucky Harry Hunt.

Hammond has been warming the bench recently and he was eager to get on the field of play. And after 87 minutes of frustration for Hitchin,  the diminutive striker netted a vital goal.

Hitchin had suffered one of those evenings when little went right. Chance after chance went begging and they even missed a penalty kick – although to be fair to Bedworth, it was a harsh decision in the first place.

Hunt and Jamie Arlick conducted their personal shooting session in the first half, but the finishing was off target. Hunt blasted high after rounding goalkeeper Andrew Kemp and shot wide on three further occasions in the opening 45 minutes. Arlick did well to bring the ball down in the area and then volleyed wide and then Ieuan Lewis saw his effort blocked in the area. It was, surely, only a matter of time before the Canaries opened the scoring.

But Bedworth, who offered little in the way of invention, did provide solid resistence at the back. The Hitchin chances continued and the ball was firmly cemented into the Bedworth half, but the final ball just wasn’t right. With news of Bury and Burnham filtering through, with both winning comfortably, not to mention Chesham’s victory at Slough, a goalless draw was looking like a bad evening’s work for Hitchin.

Ten minutes from time, however, the Canaries were awarded a dubious penalty. Lewis ran inside his man in the area and the laws of science told you the Bedworth defender could not get out of the way – Lewis went down and the referee awarded a spotkick. The visitors, naturally, were incensed and their protests resulted in a flurry of card waving from Mr Tonks. One was even a red as Ben Twigger continued the debate.

The delay may have affected Arlick for his kick was tame and Kemp saved it easily – Hitchin’s leading scorer could not get the right footing in the sticky penalty area to reach the rebound. Surely, Bedworth had survived the onslaught?

But there was one last twist in the tale. A through ball down the middle saw Hammond outpace the Bedworth defenders and he rolled the ball into the net. Hammond celebrated with gusto, the entire team followed him and Top Field breathed a sigh of relief – a noisy one at that.

There may be more nights like this before the season is out. Chasing titles is not something Hitchin are accustomed to…

Hitchin Town (0)1 Bedworth United (0)0
1-0 Hammond 87

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Fontenelle, Williams, L.Donnelly, Gilbert, Lewis, Lee, Arlick (Stevenson 89), Hunt (Hammond 76), Howell (Burke 63)
Bedworth: Kemp, Orton, Reece, Greenway, Simpson, Thackeray, Twigger, Findlay, Barlow (Thomas 90), Stanley (Linton 65), Bates (Batchelor 83)

Attendance: 220 (10 from Bedworth)
Referee: A.Tonks

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