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Hitchin Town 1 Rugby Town 2

Tuesday, February 1 2011

It had to happen, sooner or later. Hitchin’s monumental unbeaten run – 35 league games, 26 this season – came to an end against a team that dared to take the game to the Canaries. Too many teams have rolled over and invited Hitchin to take them apart this season, but Rugby – in third place before kick off – played the game the right way and made Hitchin work all night.
Not that they deserved to win, because they didn’t. Hitchin, to quote a gaggle of Rugby fans, “murdered” the visitors, but didn’t take their chances. How did Hitchin lose? By a soft tap-in and a 90th minute penalty. How cruel. How dramatic.
But Rugby sent a few signals to the home crowd in the first period. Tyrone Fagan struck the woodwork with a spectacular volley from Ben Steane’s cross. It was a let-off for the Canaries, but they also threatened to opening the scoring, Zak Burke shooting across goal and Mark Smith seeing a header from a corner deflected for a corner.
The second half had barely started when Rugby took the lead. It was a half hearted affair, a cross from Luke Keen was touched on by Seb Hamilton and the ball trickled into the net.
By contrast, Hitchin’s equalizer, after 58 minutes, was a cracker. Burke received the ball on the edge of the area,attempted a half turn and decided to take a pot himself. His effort was a little over chest height and had power, beating David Clarke all the way. It was enough to bring the crowd to life.
From then on, it was all Hitchin. Louis Lee and Richard Howell both had long range efforts that sailed wide and Burke went agonizingly close to score when his header was saved by Clarke. Burke was unlucky when he rounded the keeper and saw his shot cleared off the line.
In the 90th minute,, Tom Pepper handballed in the area and out of nothing, Rugby were awarded a penalty. Keen despatched the spot kick with ease.
The final seconds were untidy, with John Frendo sent-off and others receiving complimentary yellow cards. Defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, but at least Rugby were gracious victors.
Hitchin Town (0)1 Rugby Town (0)2
Burke 58              Hamilton 46
Keen–pen 90

Att: 238
Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Pepper, Smith, Gilbert, Lee, Howell, Donnelly, Burke, Frendo, Lewis
Rugby: Clarke, Moran, Phipps-Hall, Preston,Gourlay, Parsons, Steane, Connolly, Keen, Fagan, Hamilton (Smith (67),
Referee: W.Hardie

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