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Hitchin Town 2 Bedworth United 1

Saturday, January 29 2011

Titles are won in many ways, lucky wins, titanic struggles, great comebacks and ground-out victories when all looked lost – as well as the odd emphatic win.

 In a season that has already had its share of emphatic triumphs – witness the Canaries nine-goal haul against Soham, the 7-0 win at Northwood and the sight of Hitchin going “nap” on several occasions – a narrow and unexpected win against Bedworth was more than welcome.

With three minutes remaining, Hitchin looked set for a second consecutive home draw – the alarm bells, while not exactly clanging, were starting to vibrate. But then Callum Donnelly – arguably the Canaries’ most consistent player this season – turned, shrugged aside a challenge and sent a tame shot towards goal. Bedworth keeper James Martin, the Midlanders’ outstanding player this season we were told, fumbled the drive and allowed the ball to skid off his gloves. The game was won.

This was not a vintage performance, but it edged Hitchin closer to the end of the season and made it 26 games unbeaten.

It started reasonably well, with Richard Howell’s free kick tipped against the bar by that man Martin. But although Hitchin had the upper hand, they had to wait until the 34th minute for a goal. John Frendo dribbled into the area, played to Donnelly and his ball across goal was followed in by man-of-the-moment Zak Burke.

Hitchin were only ahead for five minutes, though as Jordan Nadat levelled at the second attempt after his first shot was blocked.

At the interval, there were a few worried expressions – heads were shaking at the inability of the Canaries to make hay while the sun was metaphorically shining on a freezing day.

The second half didn’t inspire, with Bedworth’s Easter Island defence soaking up the pressure and the front men looking a little dangerous on the break. But Frendo had a couple of efforts that suggested better was to come, a header and a volley, and Jamie Arlick seeing a goalbound shot cleared off the line.

Bennett had to be at his best to stop a long range shot from Bedworth substitute Kurtis Mewins and then Ben Thackeray missed an open goal with his header.

All was not lost, however, for Donnelly’s unexpected winner sent the Top Field faithful wild with excitement. Fortunately, Martin only had three minutes to endure the taunts of the home crowd after his blunder.  But there was still time for a scare for Hitchin – Mewins hit the top of the crossbar with just seconds remaining.

So, a difficult week for Hitchin on their own turf, but they still managed to increase their lead at the top….

Hitchin Town (1)2 Bedworth United (1)1
Burke 34              Nadat 39
Donnelly 87

Attendance: 357
Referee: S.Meale

Hitchin Town

Bedworth United
Martin Bennett
James Martin
Tony Fontenelle
Chris Goodman (*75 Adam Cooper)
Tom Pepper
Giovanni Dainty
Dean Gilbert
Dean Rathbone (*82 Jai Stanley)
Mark Smith
Ben Thackaray
Louis Lee
Kyle Cartwright
Richard Howell (*76 Luke Gregson)
Jordan Nadat
Callum Donnelly
Craig Civelis
Zak Burke
Levi Ramsay
John Frendo
Mark Withers (*70 Kurtis Mewins)
Iuean Lewis (* h/t Jamie Arlick)
Alex Dean
Jamie Arlick (*h/t)
Jai Stanley (*82)
Ryan Haggerty
Adam Cooper (*75)
Luke Gregson (*76)
Tom Norman
Danny Payne
Kurtis Mewins (*70)
Carl Williams

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