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Canvey Island 3 Hitchin Town 3

Saturday, September 12 2009

As cup ties go, this was a classic and will be talked about for years. The Canaries, looking on their way out of the competition in the first quarter of an hour, somehow summoned up the character to earn a creditable draw against Ryman Premier opposition.

Zak Burke at Canvey

Whatever happens in the replay, this game also demonstrated that Colin Payne’s buoyant side have character aplenty, for some Hitchin sides of the past would have collapsed in a heap at half-time.

Canvey, a side on its way up the ladder once more, took an eighth minute lead when Jay Curran shot home from close range with acres of space. Three minutes later, a cross from Gabriel Fanibuyan was turned home at the near post by James Rowe. And when Greg Cohen scored a fine goal after the Hitchin defence failed to clear its lines on 41 minutes, Hitchin looked a washed up as the Canvey shoreline.

Even when Luke Donnelly netted from close range after 45 minutes, it looked no more than a consolation strike for Payne’s men.

All the half-time talk was of a rout, but there was a feint whisper that if Hitchin could score again after the break, they could stage a comeback.

In the 51st minute, Ieuan Lewis was tripped by Andrew West and Hitchin had their lifeline – a penalty. Jeff Hammond, who had come on at the interval, swiftly grabbed the chance to get on the scoresheet, but his kick was hasty and straight at goalkeeper James Russell.

Five minutes later, Hammond was upended by Russell and this time, after a red card for the Canvey youngster, Jamie Arlick scored from the spot.

Now with the advantage of the extra man, Hitchin started to play their best football and suddenly, there were hopes of saving the game. With 14 minutes remaining, the Canaries did just that, Lewis playing the ball through to Zak Burke and his shot beat substitute goalkeeper Richard Basten.

It could have been even more dramatic if Lewis’s shot had not been palmed over by Basten. By the final whistle, Canvey were shell-shocked and almost relieved. As for Hitchin, their season continues to surprise – the question is can they spring another surprise in the rematch?

Canvey Island (3)3 Hitchin Town (1)3
1-0 Curran 8 mins
2-0 Rowe 11 mins
3-0 Cohen 41 mins
3-1 L.Donnelly 45 mins
3-2 Arlick 56 mins –penalty
3-3 Burke 76 mins

Canvey: Russell, Everett, West, Patten, Halle, Dobinson, Gordon (Edwards 66), Fanibuyan, Curran (Hallett 87), Rowe, Cohen

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Grinham, L.Donnelly (Hammond h/t), Smith, Gilbert, Lewis, Williams, Arlick, Velandia (Lee 87), Burke

Referee: P.Harris
Attendance: 323 (60 from Hitchin)



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