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Hitchin Town 3 Hemel Hempstead 0

Monday, August 15 2011

An exhilarating performance, resulting in a 3-0 win against former manager Colin Payne’s Hemel Hempstead side, sent Hitchin to the top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division.


20 – Zak Burke cuts inside and shoots low into the net. 1-0
56 – John Frendo upended by goalkeeper, penalty awarded. Frendo scores. 2-0
64 -  Matt McEntegart hits the bar with a header. Let-off for Canaries.
70 – Hemel’s Liam Malone sent off for foul on Ieuan Lewis.
79 -  Callum Donnelly sets up Frendo, who places a low effort into net from 10 yards. 3-0

Weather: Dry
Pitch: Excellent
Attendance: 359


They were not exactly singing in Fishponds Road, but the crowd was certainly sent home happy as a new-look Hitchin side announced its arrival in the Premier.

After the relative disappointment of the opening game, Carl Williams lit a fuse underneath his team, and it paid off. With the returning John Frendo leading the line, and fresh impetus from former Stevenage Trophy hero
Mitchell Cole, Hitchin, as predicted by Williams, were a stronger side by 9.30pm.

Spare a thought for Hemel, however. They looked a good side, were a shade unlucky at times, and suffered the “double whammy” of penalty conceded and a sending off.  Neverthless, this was a vibrant Hitchin display that augurs well for the campaign ahead.

Good news, too, for the bean counters at Top Field. A crowd of 349 – for the first Monday night experiment – was a big plus for the club at the height of a holiday season that normally impacts attendances. The crowd was a veritable A-Z of football managers - some equipped with their spying gear. Most would have gone home with eyebrows raised.

After an even opening, Hitchin took the lead on 20 minutes. It was a trademark Zak Burke production, a cut inside and a low, powerful drive that beat Mike McEntegart from 25 yards.

Hemel went close to levelling things in the 35th minute when Justin Clayton headed just past the far post from a corner. Then Marvin Williams produced a sharp turn and shot milimeteres wide from just inside the area. By the interval, Hemel had started to lay siege on the Hitchin goal, with the ball ricocheting around the 18-yard box. But all credit to Hitchin, the defence held firm, with Laurie Stewart – swathed in bandages, performing heroics a la Terry Butcher (circa 1988).

But Hemel were all but beaten by Hitchin’s second goal in the 56th minute. Frendo took the ball past goalkeeper McEntegart and would have probably ended running over the touchline, had the goalkeeper not brought the Hitchin striker down. Frendo always accepts a chance to score and he didn’t waste the spot kick. So, 2-0.

Hemel were denied by the woodwork in the 64th minute when Matt McEntegart powered a header against the bar, and with that, Hemel’s fire started to extinguish. Luke Gregson – following up his impressive performance at Banbury with another commanding 90 minutes – almost scored when he was set-up by Frendo but saw his hastily-hit shot pushed for a corner.

Then the first of two final setbacks for Payne’s men – Liam Malone’s dismissal for a cynical foul on Ieuan Lewis. The blow upon the bruise came 11 minutes from time, Callum Donnelly demonstrating some trickery before sliding the ball to Frendo, who turned and curled a low and delicate effort into the net for the third goal.

Not even a late booking for Donnelly could dampen the evening. If Williams can keep this team intact and motivated, there may be more evenings like this to cherish.

The Teams

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Leach, Stewart, Gilbert, Lee, Lewis, Gregson, Burke (Anderson 58), Frendo (Arlick 89), Cole (Donnelly 65)
Subs not used: Fontenelle, Edgerley
Goals: Burke 20, Frendo 56 pen, 79

Hemel: Mike McEntegart, May, Clayton, Smith (Morgan Williams 59), Goodhind (Gilbert 75), Matt McEntegart, Malone, Alexis, Fenemore (Toomey 79), Marvin Williams, Blake
Subs not used: Stead, Readers

Referee: P.Forrester
Assistants: A.Crawford and I.Corner

Waitrose man of the match award (as chosen by Matchball sponsor Lennie Leroux)

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