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Brackley Town 3 Hitchin Town 0

Saturday, October 15 2011

With three consecutive defeats, Hitchin have hit a rough patch, and it wasn’t just the poor playing surface at Brackley’s St.James Park.

3- Tom Winters fires home to send Brackley ahead 1-0

20- Steve Diggin passes inside to Elliot Sandy who makes it 2-0

41- Diggin shoots against the crossbar
50- Jerome Anderson hits the bar
64- Owen Story makes it 3-0 after two efforts are blocked

Weather: Autumnal sunshine, dry

Pitch: Bumpy
 and dry
Attendance: 242

 It could have been double figures. And that was just the first half! Hitchin were completely outplayed by a resource-rich Brackley side that was generous in the extreme. If the misses chances had been converted, if Martin Bennett hadn’t pulled off a string of saves and if Brackley’s second half shooting hadn’t been more oval than round ball, Hitchin would have been looking at a defeat that would have rivaled double-digit humiliations at Crook (1953-54), Kingstonian (1965-66)  and Slough (1979-80).

But let’s get things into perspective. Like the turmoil in the financial markets, a crisis of confidence is probably the biggest problem confronting Carl Williams’ men. Hitchin have shown – against Cambridge, AFC Totton and Bedford – that they have a half decent team. The past three games have shown that the article is not quite finished, but it doesn’t mean the potential has suddenly gone away.

Injuries meant that Williams had to juggle his squad. No recognized left back meant that Mitchell Cole played in that position. With Louis Lee unfit, Lawrie Stewart was pushed into midfield. The reshuffle didn’t work and Brackley carved huge furrows through the Hitchin defence.

Tom Winters gave Brackley the lead in the third minute, shooting home after a long throw had caused problems in the Canaries’ area and Steve Diggin passed inside to his team-mate.

Diggin and Winters caused mayhem in the first half and both missed easy chances after the first goal. Then in the 20th minute, Brackley broke away and Diggin set up Elliot Sandy who shot low into the net.

Then came wave after wave of attacks from the home side. Diggin could have had four before the interval, but was denied by Bennett and the woodwork. Even Brackley’s defenders were lining to get in on the act, and Tom Kemp should have done better when he headed past the post from three yards.

Hitchin’s players walked off shell-shocked at the interval, while Williams and Mark Burke left the field with grave looks. You feared for anyone sitting in on the half-time team-talk.

But they all returned, yellow and green tails trailing between their legs. For a few minutes, just a bat’s squeak of hope emerged from the darkness as Jerome Anderson struck the crossbar with a long range shot. But it was no more than a token gesture to remind Brackley that they may have had a hatful of chances, but you have to take them to finish the game off.

And so it proved. Bennett came to the rescue again and again, Brackley’s forwards were in shooting practice mode and the game drifted towards its inevitable conclusion. The third and final goal came in the 64th minute, Owen Story rifling the ball home at the third attempt.

If Diggin , Sandy and Ellis Myles had been a bit for precise, it could have been worse, but Brackley declined the offer to make those wounds sting.  No surprise that the Hitchin team coach snaked its way out of Brackley 45 minutes after the final whistle…

The teams

Walker, Myles, Clifton (Willmott 90), Palmer, Green, Kemp, Story (Chennells 90), Solkhon (Magunda 82), Diggin, Sandy, Winters

Goals: Winters 3, Sandy 20, Story 64

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Cole, Stewart, Leach, Gilbert, Lewis (Edgerley 76), Gregson (Donnelly 57), Burke, Frendo, Anderson (Fontenelle 57)

Referee: G.Taylor

Assistants: V.Torre, K.Bailey

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