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Hitchin Town 0 Swindon Supermarine 1

Saturday, March 10 2012

Hitchin Town stumbled to defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Swindon despite dominating for 90 minutes. A goal 12 minutes from time settled a poor game in front of an impressive crowd of 364.

78 - Gray scores with a deflected shot 0-1

Weather: Dry, spring-like
Pitch: Excellent
Attendance: 364

Photo by Geoff TomassonHow often has this happened? Good displays against promotion chasers and then a flat, dull and ineffective performance against a team of strugglers. It's an old, old Hitchin problem and after flirting with safety, Canaries fans are now getting out the slide rule to calculate how many points are needed to secure a premier division place for next season.

Swindon are a little like a bogey side, especially at Top Field. They have beaten Hitchin twice this season and in three meetings at Top Field, they have come away with a 1-0 win. In this game, it was a case of 100% success. One shot, one goal, three points. Hitchin dominated, but just couldn't find the right shooting boots.

The first half was all Hitchin, but a combination of poor finishing an stout defending prevented the Canaries from opening the scoring. John Frendo had a number of half chances, notably when he received Tom Pepper's pass from the byline and saw a tame shot saved by Swindon goalkeeper Ashley Harrison.
Just before the interval, Frendo shot into the side-netting from close range.

Hitchin's best supply line came from full back Tony Fontenelle, whose crosses caused problems for the Swindon defence. From one of these, Luke Gregson brought a good save out of Harrison with a header.

It was a similar take in the second period. Ieuan Lewis struck a post after shooting from an acute angle. Lewis created a golden opportunity for Inih Effiong when he won a challenge and slipped the ball through to the tall front man, who skipped past a challenge and saw his shot pushed away from danger by Harrison. Another Lewis cross invited Effiong to finish from six yards, but he failed to connect and the ball rolled away from goal.

As the game started to edge towards its close, Swindon stunned the home crowd with the winning goal. Bradley Gray's shot from 20 yards took a deflection on its way past Martin Bennett. It was a cruel goal, but it gave Swindon some hope in their bid to stave off relegation and posed questions of Hitchin.

The teams

Hitchin: Bennett, Fontenelle, Pepper, Stewart, Gilbert, Donnelly, Lewis, Gregson, Effiong (Morgan 82), Frendo, Burke Subs not used: Pedrycz, King, Edgerley

Swindon: Harrison, Lapham, Allen, Bampton, Adam, Beedon, Wells (Prictor 54), Dean (Horgan 71), M.Etheridge, Gray, Stanley (Edenborough 90) Subs not used: Cole, Robinson

Referee: T.Goddard
Assistants: C.Pullen, S.Cheek

Photo by Geoff Tomasson

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