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St.Albans City 4 Hitchin Town 4

Tuesday, August 23 2011

A goal deep into added time deprived Hitchin of their second win of the season. An eight-goal thriller it may have been, but the one point could easily have been three for the Canaries at Clarence Park.

5- Leach’s through-ball down the flank finds Frendo and he slots the ball home 0-1
9- After two blocked efforts from Frendo, the ball rolls to Anderson, who shoots in off the crossbar 0-2
10- Quick response from Saints, Pooley runs down the right and unchallenged, sends a shot over Bennett 1-2
45- Frendo plays the ball into the area, Burke tries to challenge, it rolls to Anderson, who curls his shot past the keeper 1-3
65- Sean Shields skips past two challenges and hits a hard shot from 25 yards past Bennett 2-3
67- Ihaja does likewise, hitting a superb effort into the net 3-3
75- Edgerley finds Frendo in the area, who somehow manages to squeeze the ball into the net 3-4
79– Frendo red-carded after a second yellow
87- Referee collapses with cramp (!)
90- Donnelly upends Sean Shields and Bakare scores from the spot 4-4

Weather: Damp, cool
Pitch: Wet
Attendance: 452

Before the game, Hitchin would have settled for this, but because of the way the game took shape, it felt like defeat to some of the Canary faithful. It was good to be back at Clarence Park to face one of Hitchin’s traditional rivals – a club with substance. They are also very enthusiastic, for St.Albans, under new management have scarcely been friendlier or more welcoming.

It had been eight years since the Canaries ran out at St.Albans, and the way they started suggested that they had certainly missed the experience.  Hitchin went ahead as early as the fifth minute, John Frendo demonstrating once more that he is a class act in front of goal. He was involved again when the second goal went in, Jerome Anderson firing in off the crossbar after two earlier efforts from last season’s Golden Bootsman.

Within seconds, Hitchin allowed the Saints back into the game, giving Matt Pooley acres of space down the flank as he sent a shot soaring over Martin Bennett.

Frenetic it may have been, but the first period was richly entertaining. Hitchin lived a cliffhanger of an existence for a while, with Dean Gilbert clearing off the line and Bennett pulling off a fine save from Brian Haule.  The veteran Rob Haworth, a powerful front man, added menace with his aerial prowess – a constant worry for the Hitchin defence.

But on the stroke of half-time, Hitchin put some clear blue water between themselves and their hosts, Anderson scoring again after the ball ran loose and he placed his low, curling shot wide of Kyle Merson.

St.Albans , refreshed from a half-time dressing down from fearsome manager David Howell, came out fighting in the second half. Laurie Stewart came to the rescue early on with a goal-line clearance but two goals in three minutes changed the game. And they were almost identical, in that they started with the ball being picked up in midfield, saw the player go unchallenged to the outskirts of the penalty area and ended with well placed shots that Bennett could only watch and admire. The first, on 65 minutes came from Sean Shields, and the equaliser was hit home by David Ihaja.

Hitchin were not finished, and there was still more to relish from Frendo. James Edgerley – it would be a cliché to say he had an educated left foot – sent in a low ball from the flank to the heavily-policed Frendo, who somehow screwed the ball past Merson from the tightest of angles. A magnificent goal and a matchwinner if ever there was one. But within a few minutes from being cast in the role of hero, Frendo was sent home early – after two yellow cards for dissent.

The Saints had a glimmer of hope and as the night wore on – the game was held up for some time as the referee fell victim of cramp – Callum Donnelly upended Sean Shields and from the penalty spot, parity was restored by Sakho Bakare. Great entertainment. “One of the best games we’ve seen,” said one Clarence Park regular. As for Hitchin, it’s 11 years since they last lost at St.Albans. But it could easily have been four straight wins at the old stadium.

The teams

St.Albans: Merson, Pooley (Ehui 77), Matthews, Ihaja, Cutchey, Moran, Sean Shields, Solomon Shields, Haworth, Haule (Bakare h/t), Hart (Walker h/t)
Subs not used: Sonuga, Alebiosu
Goals: Pooley 10, Sean Shields 65, Ihaja 67, Bakare 90-pen

Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Leach, Stewart, Gilbert, Lee, Lewis, Gregson (Edgerley 72), Burke (Arlick 90), Frendo, Anderson (Donnelly 53)
Subs not used: Fontenelle, Cole
Goals: Frendo 5, 75 Anderson 9, 45

Referee: G.Sprague
Assistants:  D.Richardson and Luigi Lungarella

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