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Banbury United 1 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, August 13 2011

A Zak Burke equaliser in the fourth minute of added time gave Hitchin an unexpected point at  Banbury United's Spencer Stadium.

13 - Banbury's Glenn Walker heads wide from a free kick
30- Martin Bennett pulls of a good save from Will Green
33-  Laurie Stewart booked
40 - Hitchin's first chance - Zak Burke blasts over the bar from 20 yards
45-  Luke Gregson heads wide from a Jamie Arlick cross
55-  Tom Pepper brings down Ben Polk and from the penalty spot, Green shoots Banbury ahead 1-0
70-  Laurie Stewart goes close with a header from a free kick
75-  Green denied by Bennett
83-  Jerome Anderson sees his shot blocked by Banbury keeper Andy Kemp

90-  Sam Youngs misses a good chance to out Banbury two-up
90+3  The Banbury defence is caught out as the ball rolls to Burke, who drives home 1-1

Attendance: 256

Weather: Dry, patchy

Pitch: Bumpy

 Canaries manager Carl Williams must have had a "get out of jail free" card tucked into his shorts at Banbury, for even the most myopic Hitchin fan had given up on getting anything from a dull encounter on the opening day of the season.

It's "early doors" as the cliche goes, but on the evidence of this game, it may take Hitchin a game or two to get used to new surroundings. Unlike the past two seasons, when their pace and trickery outplayed the opposition, the Premier Division may require a little extra. They were without talismanic front-man John Frendo, who was unavailable, but for much of a poor game, Hitchin were second best to a far-from-impressive Banbury team.

It took Hitchin 40 minutes to muster up a shot, and then it was a Zak Burke effort that soared into the Oxfordshire sky. Then just before the break, Luke Gregson headed over from a cross by Jamie Arlick. Banbury, meanwhile, had some half chances that Martin Bennett did well to stop - notably when he turned Will Green's shot round the post. By the interval, however, there was an air of anti-climax around the work-in-progress that is the Spencer Stadium.

But Banbury came out with a bit of verve in the second period and on 55 minutes, they went ahead. Tom Pepper tripped Ben Polk and from the penalty spot, Green shot high to Bennett's left.

Williams introduced new signing Jerome Anderson just past the hour mark, and the wirey forward looked useful on the ball. Anderson’s arrival enabled Hitchin to step up the pace and for a while, they seemed to threaten Kemp's goal. Laurie Stewart headed just past the post from a free kick and late in the game, Anderson was bravely blocked by the Banbury keeper.

It all looked lost as time ticked by, but the Banbury defence misjudged a clearance and the ball rolled to Burke, who evaded Liam Dolman and shot low into the net. The home team was crestfallen, and who can blame them? But as everyone knows these days, it's not just about 90 minutes - Burke's strike was deep into the 94th minute. Where all that time had come from is anyone's guess - but Hitchin were grateful.

The teams

Banbury: Kemp, Williams, Polk, Thackeray, Dolman, Kinch, Youngs, Coleman, Green (Stanbridge 84), Edmonds, Walker
Subs not used: Dowling, Travers, Hill, Peppiatt
Goal: Green – pen 55

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Leach, Stewart, Gilbert, Lee, Donnelly (Edgerley 77), Gregson, Burke, Arlick (Anderson 63), Lewis

Subs not used: Fontenelle, Bickerstaff, Williams
Goal: Burke 90+3

Referee: A.Fielding

Assistants: J.Mizzi and S.Wales

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