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Hitchin Town 4 Slough Town 1

Thursday, April 28 2011

There was a sense of relief at Top Field on Thursday evening as the Canaries banished the Arlesey blues and successfully negotiated the first stage of the play-offs – something they failed to do last season.

Slough Town, who ended Hitchin’s hopes a year ago, were brushed aside thanks to a scintillating second half display by the Canaries. But it was a different story in the first half as Slough looked the more confident side.

The visitors almost took the lead in the 15th minute when John Wordsworth slipped up and Simon Martin ran wide and shot goalwards, only for Wordsworth to dash back to clear off the line.

In the 34th minute, however, Slough went ahead, Danny Burnell bundling the ball home at the far post after an extraordinarily long throw-in.

Hitchin struggled to get going but on the stroke of half-time, they wre awarded a debatable penalty after Callum Donnelly’s long run ended with him colliding with Slough full back Danny Murphy.

John Frendo took the penalty kick, but goalkeeper Rob Bullivant’s save saw the ball spin into the air where Frendo met it with a header that found the back of the net.

Slough were still disputing the kick when the teams headed for the dressing room and their discontent seemed to affect their composure in the second half.

Hitchin went ahead on 53 minutes with a stunning goal from Zak Burke – a 30-yard shot that gave Bullivant no chance.

Six minutes later, Frendo scored his second goal, a characteristic volley after Richard Howell’s free kick was knocked down by Burke.

Slough were almost finished now and Ieuan Lewis and Louis Lee went close to adding further goals. In between, Slough had a “goal” ruled out, but it was a solitary effort from Steve Bateman’s crestfallen team.

Jamie Arlick ended the scoring seven minutes from time when Howell fed him from the right and his shot, deflected by a challenge, found the corner of the net.

Special mention must be made of Slough’s reaction to defeat. Both players and supporters wished Hitchin well. “You deserved it,” was one comment. “The only downside if you go up will be that we won’t be coming back here next season, you’ve got a great club with fantastic supporters.”

Daventry are next in the final. Another tension-packed 90 minutes is anticipated, and it will be tough.

Hitchin Town (1)4 Slough Town (1)1
Frendo 45, 59        Burnell 34
Burke 53
Arlick 83
Attendance: 602

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Bickerstaff, Gilbert, Wordsworth, Lee, Howell, Donnelly (Payne 84), Burke (Arlick 70), Frendo (Gregson 87), Lewis

Bullivant, Seeby, Murphy (Porter 82), Logie (Sinclair 64), Perkins Woozley, Martin (Abbey 62), Coyne, Burnell, Sonner, Swift
Bookings: Murphy 38, Coyne 72, Swift 77

Referee: P.Harris

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