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Arlesey Town 0 Hitchin Town 0

Thursday, December 26 2013

They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in this case, it was familiarity means no surprises. That’s exactly what this disappointing Boxing Day  derby needed, a few tricks, a few rockets here and there. But after four meetings between these local rivals, Hitchin dominated for much of the 90 minutes, but the final ball, the vital touch in the penalty area was missing. Still, after two defeats, the Canaries restabilised the good ship Burke against one of the form sides in the division.

As ever, Hitchin brought out some of their neat passing game, but the game also saw too much of the “get rid quick” long-ball approach, which didn’t make for the best spectacle for the large holiday crowd.

Hitchin dominated the possession stakes in the first half, with skipper Callum Donnelly their biggest threat with a series of crosses and balls into the area. He should have opened the scoring in the ninth minute when he was set clear, but his shot went wide of Jack Bonham’s goal. At the other end, Arlesey went close when Joseph N’Guessan shot just wide of the post.

For all their ownership, Hitchin couldn’t take advantage, although just before the interval, Kim Forsythe thought he had opened the scoring when he headed home, only for the effort to be ruled out.

The second half was much the same, although Arlesey tightened things up and adopted a more robust style. That said, the Canaries were still the more likely team to score. Donnelly’s shot was charged down in the area, prompting calls for handball, until the supporters realised it was in fact the goalkeeper who handled the ball! Michael Noone had a couple of chances to score, a long range shot and another wild drive that flew into the surrounding fields.

Arlesey’s best spell came late in the game, and the impressive Jonny McNamara, a player who would not look out of place in the Hitchin line-up, shot across the face of goal. And Tahj Bell came to Hitchin’s rescue when he saved a Barry Hayles effort at the far post.

Hitchin gaied some fresh impetus in the close stages when Terry Dixon came on for Forsythe. Dixon’s energy and footwork caused problems for Arlesey, but it wasn’t enough to break the deadlock. 

Honours even, which extended Arlesey’s unbeaten run and ended the Canaries’ two-game blip, but overall, the game failed to live up to expectations.

Bonham, Joseph, Abraham, Tavernier, Maltay, M’bala, McNamara, Hatch, Hayles (Farrell 77), N’Guessan, Powell (Medina 67)

Hitchin: Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Barker, Jones, Pearson, McGeorge (King 57) Donnelly, Martin, Forsythe (Dixon 77), Noone

Report by Neil Jensen

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