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Arlesey Town 1 Hitchin Town 2

Tuesday, March 15 2011

All roads led to Arlesey on an evening that was seen as something of a major local sporting event. More than 600 people, many of whom – one suspected - had not seen a game involving either club, turned up to see the top two in the Zamaretto Central Division.

And for Hitchin fans, what an evening it was in Arlesey’s fine ground. They went to the Armadillo Stadium fearing the worst, realizing that it may be one final throw of the title dice. What they got was a 2-1 win, ending Arlesey’s unbeaten home record and rediscovering some of the form that took them to the top of the league.

It was not an evening for faint hearts. There were 10 bookings and the first free kick came after 28 seconds. Given the rate at which referee Mr.Aylott was brandishing his yellow card, it was a surprise that a red card didn’t follow.

The tense, opening 20 minutes yielded little in the way of goalscoring opportunities. Arlesey’s Stuart Sinclair, a menace all evening, saw his shot purhsed for a corner by Martin Bennett, while at the opposite end, Josh Bickerstaff’s low drive was also inches wide.

Hitchin were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes when Zak Burke raced through and was brought down by James Gray. Initially, Mr.Aylott awarded a free kick, but after consulation with the assistant, the spot kick was given.  John Frendo, returning to the side after a five-game suspension, scored and was extremely animated in his celebrations!

Arlesey responded well, however, and only the boot of Bennett prevented Gareth Price from equalizing. In the 36th minute, however, Arlesey drew level when Marc Leach swept the ball home following a scramble. Two minutes later, Burke rattled the Arlesey crossbar with a long-range effort.

It was Burke that gave Hitchin the lead once more in the 53rd minute, turning to shoot home from just inside the area with a low drive.

For much of the second half, Hitchin dealt comfortably with Arlesey’s offering. Price went close with a low cross-cum-shot that rolled across the face of goal, just waiting for a touch, and the ball ricocheted around the Hitchin area at times, causing some anxiety.

Frendo, who made such a difference to Hitchin, had two close range chances and if the Canaries had not over-elaborated at times, another goal may have resulted.

Arlesey, who remain title favourites, rarely looked like scoring in the latter stages, but they are physically stronger than most teams in the Zamaretto Central division. This was an important win for Hitchin but Arlesey still have the advantage. The vast majority of the 604 attendance went home happy, though…

Statistics

Arlesey Town (1)1 Hitchin Town (1)2
M.Leach 36           Frendo –pen 26
                                   
                           Burke 53

Attendance: 604

Arlesey: Hayward, Gray, Perpetuini, Brown, M.Leach, Allinson (Sagwete 67),
Price (Abbey 73), Sinclair, Dillon, Mason, Goss (March 60)

Bookings: Gray 24, Price 29, Dillon 32,  Leach 40, Brown 55,  Allinson 58, Hayward 58,

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Bickerstaff, Gilbert, Nelly (Wordsworth 43), Gregson, Howell (Arlick 66), Lee, Burke, Frendo, Lewis

Bookings: Bickerstaff 32, Frendo 40, Fontenelle 45

Referee: A.Aylott



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