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Hitchin Town 0 St.Albans City 3

Saturday, December 10 2011

Now it is a crisis. That was the verdict after Hitchin Town were soundly beaten by a St.Albans side that had shipped six goals only a week ago.

20- Furlong scores for St.Albans 0-1

25- Frendo hits the woodwork

43- Gray scores with a volley 0-2

45- Gray heads home from corner 0-3

Weather: Cold but dry
Pitch: Firm

Attendance: 418

 It is now nine games since Hitchin last won and a month since they last scored a league goal, but even the most myopic Canaries’ fan is now casting anxious eyes at the trapdoor. Nobody ever got relegated in December, so there is plenty of time to get things right, but for the first time this season, the harsh reality of life in the Premier Division started to dominate post-match discussions.

Hitchin have been here before, in fact countless times in their history, so nobody is in any doubt what the goal is for 2011-12: Premier Division survival.

Carl Williams fielded his new signing, Inih Effiong (pictured) and the new boy showed some good touches. With better service, he could be the ideal foil for John Frendo, whose recent record has been hampered by suspension.

A three-goal burst in the first half was enough for St.Albans to beat a Hitchin side that has a very fragile level of confidence.

St.Albans took the lead after 20 minutes when Michael Harriman’s throw-in rolled invitingly for Paul Furlong and he sent a low shot past Martin Bennett from the edge of the area.

Frendo represented Hitchin’s best threat and in the 25th minute, he struck the woodwork after Tony Fontenelle played the ball into the six yard box. Defender Marc Leach also went close when his back header was cleared off the line by Matt Cutchey.

Hitchin received two setback just before the interval. In the 43rd minute, a Ryan Watts corner was volleyed home in style by James Gray. Two minutes later, Gray delivered another blow when he powerfully headed past Bennett from a Watts free kick.

The tempo dropped in the second half although St.Albans had two early opportunities through Sean Shields, both saved by Bennett.

Hitchin gradually asserted some pressure, however, with shots by Zak Burke and Callum Donnelly that went wide of the target and a header by Leach that cleared the bar.

St.Albans were comfortably in control and Shields almost added a fourth when he raced through and shot wide. Sadly, he was badly injured in the process and stretchered off.

The game continued well into 102 minutes, but Hitchin were unable to make much of a dent in a Saints defence that had clearly recovered from its mauling against Barwell.

The teams

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Pepper, Stewart (Burke h/t), Gilbert, Leach, Donnelly, Gregson, Effiong, Frendo, Lewis (King 81) Subs not used: Ann, Edgerley, Williams
Jupp, Harriman, Bernard, Ihaja, Gray, Cutchey, Shields (Lansiquot 85) Hyde, Furlong (Bakare 82), Martin, Watts Subs not used: Matthews, Jinadu, Haworth

Referee: M.Scholes
Assistants: D.Flanagan, J.Aldous

Photo: Martin Annetts

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