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Canvey Island 1 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, October 17 2009

If anyone needed any evidence that Hitchin Town have made significant progress this season, they need only have attended the Canaries game with Ryman Premier Division Canvey Island.

Zak Burke at CanveyColin Payne’s men pulled off an impressive win at Park Lane, thoroughly deserving their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy.
The hero of the hour was goalkeeper Martin Bennett, who had possibly his best game for the club, saving a penalty and coming to the rescue on a number of occasions.

But he was not the only player to catch the eye. Jeff Hammond, on the evidence of his first half display, is back to his best, and Ieuan Lewis had another excellent game.  With a midweek win at Slough and this outstanding victory, it has been a red-letter week for the Canaries!

Hammond opened the scoring for Hitchin. A long ball through by Tony Fontenelle saw Hammond dash past the Canvey defence and he steadied himself before shooting wide of keeper James Russell.

Canvey responded quickly and Bennett had to be at his best to save from a Chris Moore header and then he spectacularly tipped over a cross by Gabriel Fanibuyan. Bennett was called to action again when he palmed over a well-struck free kick by Greg Cohen.

During a period in which the Hitchin goal led a charmed life, the Canaries could have exended their lead when a cross by Jamie Arlick was headed wide by Luke Donnelly. But Canvey threatened again before the break and a header from Jason Hallett struck the top of the crossbar from Cohen’s corner. Hitchin had another chance to score before the break when Zak Burke shot into the side-netting.

Canvey had a golden chance to equalise in the first minute of the second half. Shaun Reece upended Hallett  in the area, but Kevin Dobinson’s penalty was saved by Bennett, the rebound struck a post and the second follow-up was saved again by the Hitchin keeper.

In the 59th minute, however, Hitchin  scored again, Burke cutting inside, running across the area and sending a superb shot past Russell.

Canvey came back immediately and four minutes later, Rowe shot home with a half-volley.  The goal suggested a tricky last half hour, but Hitchin dug in well and could have had further goals from Lewis and Arlick, both of whom brought good saves out of Russell.

Canvey were fortunate to end the game with 11 men as both Moore and substitute Richard Halle escaped punishment for cynical fouls as the home side vented their frustration.

So Hitchin exacted some revenge for their FA Cup defeat,  but the underlying message from the Essex coast was that Hitchin’s start to the season is no fluke – confidence is sky-high and Colin Payne’s young players have the necessary mettle to take the Canaries back to the Premier division!

Canvey Island (0)1 Hitchin Town (1)2
0-1 Hammond 4 mins
0-2 Burke 59 mins
1-2 Rowe 63 mins

Canvey: Russell, Everett, West, Patten (Halle 76), Moore, Dobinson (Davidson 85), Fanibuyan, King, Hallett, Rowe, Cohen

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Gilbert, Smith, Reece, Lewis (B.Donnelly 85), Williams (Velandia 90), L.Donnelly (Lee 68), Burke, Arlick, Hammond

Attendance: 285 (45 from Hitchin)
Referee: N.Cooper

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