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Cambridge City 3 Hitchin Town 1

Tuesday, February 21 2012

Two moments of brilliance proved to be Hitchin’s downfall at Milton Road, despite the Canaries putting on one of their best displays of the season.

36- Effiong finishes from close range to put Hitchin ahead 0-1
55- Fantastic free kick finish from Kelly 1-1
71- 35 yard lob by Kelly beats Bennett 2-1
75- Kelly crosses to Midgley, who heads home 3-1

Weather: Mild, damp
Pitch: Patchy
Attendance: 281

It wasn’t meant to be patronising, but a cluster of Cambridge City fans left the soon-to-be-vacated Milton Road ground praising Hitchin’s performance. “You’re the best we’ve seen this season,” was the message, but plaudits don’t necessarily mean points in football.

But there can be plenty of encouragement from this display, arguably one of Hitchin’s better away from home. If Chisora and Haye had been in the Canaries line-up, they may have had more luck in combating the resolute City defence, but in terms of finesse and style, Hitchin certainly had the better of their hosts, despite the presence of a player named Prada in the Cambridge ranks.

Actually, for a while it looked as though Cambridge were not having their share of good fortune. Influential defender Lee Chaffey was carried off and then even more influential veteran Adie Cambridge received the ball in the face. Chaffey’s replacement, Torres, seemed to be as hapless as his famous namesake when he came on as substitute and received a yellow card precisely 90 seconds after his arrival.

Hitchin had what you would call half chances early on, Inih Effiong and Callum Donnelly trying their luck, and the latter had a glancing header that went side. In the 36th minute, though, Dean Gilbert and Lawrie Stewart combined to send the ball goalwards and Effiong slid in to steer his effort in past Zac Barrett.

Hitchin opened the second half confidently, with a Tony Fontenelle crossed and John Frendo nodded on for Donnelly and then Zak Burke sent a low drive wide. Frendo tried to weave his way into the area and saw his shot blocked, but then the game changed.

Cambridge were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area and Danny Kelly sent a sublime shot curling into Martin Bennett’s goal. A superb, wickedly cruel goal.

The game started to edge away from Hitchin at this point, although patient football meant they spent much of the game skirting the penalty area trying to find a chink in the Cambridge armour.

In the 71st minute, however, Kelly performed his second trick in Beckhamesque fashion. He noticed Bennett was off his line and received the ball just inside the Hitchin half. His lob, which seemed to take an age to reach the net, was beyond Bennett’s outstretched arm. Another piece of magic. How Cambridge will miss him when he leaves them in March.

But Kelly was not finished. Four minutes later, he ran to the byline and crossed to the near post where Neil Midgley was waiting to head home. And that was that.

The teams

Cambridge City: Barrett, Islam, Death, Theobald, Chaffey (Torres 13), Cambridge (Nightingale 60), Kelly, Prada, Midgley (Hammond 79), Clift, Bryant  Subs not used: Abbs, Bussens

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Pepper, Stewart, Gilbert, Donnelly, Burke, Lee, Effiong (King 85), Frendo, Lewis Subs not used: Gregson, Leach, Edgerley, Pedrycz

Referee: D.Margetts
Assistants: R.Hart & A.Bent

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