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Hitchin Town 0 Stevenage 1

Thursday, July 14 2011

Hitchin Town’s first pre-season friendly hints at a fresh approach from Carl Williams’ team as Stevenage leave it late to clinch victory. The Canaries refused to be overawed

13 -  Frendo heads onto roof of the net
27 -  Gregson robs Julien, the Stevenage GK, but shoots wide
32 -  Stevenage’s Reid sets up May, misses open goal
48 -  Gregson burst through, shoots over bar
64 –  Arlick diving header over the bar
72 –  Burke’s cross hits the top of the crossbar
74 –  Bennett pulls off point-blank saves from Harrison and  Thalassitis
86 –  GOAL – Beardsley taps in after Thalassitis’ shot is blocked by Pedrycz 0-1

Weather: Dry and bright
Pitch: Firm
Attendance: 674

Graham Westley kept his team on the lush Top Field turf well into the night, long after the Hitchin players had made their exit. They went through an intense training session after they had struggled against a team several rungs below them in the footballing hierarchy.

Stevenage won, but the fact that they had to rely on an 86th minute goal said it all. Hitchin put on an excellent display for a pre-season friendly – playing with aggression, speed and determination. For a team with just a handful of training sessions under its belt, they looked fit, eager and well organised. All credit to Williams and his backroom team.

Williams fielded his two new signings, Laurie Stewart and Marc Leach and both looked accomplished and possessing the qualities the Canaries boss is looking for this season – strength and commitment. The assorted trialists, Jamie Osbourne, Mark E’Beyer and Barto Pedrycz, the latter a Polish goalkeeper, all had good run-outs.

But it was Luke Gregson and Martin Bennett that raised most eyebrows – the former running with the sort of vigour and stamina that will be needed in 2011-12, and Bennett pulling off some excellent saves to earn an ovation when he was substituted for the young Pole.

Goalscoring opportunities were not exactly plentiful, but then Stevenage are a well organised, power-driven side that will be playing in Football League One in 2011-12. The only goal, scored in the 86th minute, came just as Hitchin were running out of steam and Stevenage decided to up the tempo. Pedryck stopped Michael Thalassitis’ first attempt and Chris Beardlsey picked up the rebound, shooting into the net.

The defeat didn’t dishearten anyone at Top Field – the Hitchin team earned their applause and Williams was beaming about his side’s performance. A year ago, Stevenage pulverised Hitchin. Not this time.

The teams

Hitchin Town:
Bennett (Pedryck 74), Pepper, Bickerstaff, Gilbert, Leach, Stewart, Payne (Lee 55), Donnelly (E’Beyer 55), Burke (Osbourne 60), Frendo (Arlick h/t), Gregson
Stevenage: Julien (Welch h/t), Wilson, Laird (Shroot h/t), Reid (Winn h/t), Myrie-Williams (Federico 60), May (Harrison h/t), Byrom (Beardsley h/t), Roberts, Mousinho (Collins 60), Bostwick, Henry (Thalassitis 60)
Referee: G.Evetts
Assistants: G.Starr, A.Crawford


From Stevenage website: “I think the win is what it’s all about, we wouldn’t have been happy coming in at 0-0, and although it took a late goal, it was nice to win,” – Graham Westley

“I’m delighted with our performance. We were not overawed and considering we have had just four sessions, I couldn’t have asked for more,” – Carl Williams

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