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Bideford 3 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, December 21 2013

Having travelled through awful weather conditions it was a real worry as to whether the game would go ahead but incredibly in stark contrast to the monsoon conditions encountered en route the sun was shining in Bideford and the pitch was in excellent condition with the rain holding off until the last 10 minutes.

Unfortunately Hitchin were hard hit by injuries , unavailability and suspension which meant five key players were absent---Callum Donnelly, Lewis Rolfe, Matt Lench, Dan Webb and Sam Barker were all missing with only four substitutes named and one of these was assistant manager Adam Parker who had been hastily signed on on Friday.

Nick Burtenshaw and Gary Wharton came in to the side while Terry Dixon made his full league debut and Garry Jones continued at Left back with Josh Bickerstaff in central defence.

Bideford played a high tempo game looking to win as many second balls as possible and were very dangerous from corners and difficult to defend long throws. Sean Downing shot wide early on and Dixon did the same after a Simon Martin flick on. Bideford took the lead  when Matty Bye fed  Graham Mercieca who shot home from 25 yards. The same player forced a save from Tahj Bell soon after but Hitchin were always in the game and Michael Noone shot from the edge of the box after clever play only to see the shot hit the inside of the post. Then Kim Forsythe came close after a good build up from Martin and Dixon before Wharton had a shot deflected wide.

Dixon had two chances at the beginning of the second half before Michael King replaced Burtenshaw and Hitchin went three at the back. But Bideford added a second goal when Craig Duff chipped Bell after 70 minutes and the game was put to bed when their best move of the game saw Owen Howe to provide a crisp finish seven minutes later.

Hitchin did not give up and Dixon missed from close range before getting a consolation goal with a good finish inside the post from 25 yards in the last minute.

Although not at their best Hitchin still created chances against high riding Bideford and the definite feeling was that if the five absentees had been present the result could have been different. The real positive for Hitchin was the performance of Terry Dixon who was really impressive and appears to be a real find while squad members got valuable game time. So now after a 244 mile journey to Bideford it is the somewhat easier 3 mile trip to Arlesey on Boxing Day for the always anticipated local derby.

Hitchin: Bell, Burtenshaw, Bickerstaff, Wharton, Jones, Pearson, McGeorge, Dixon, Martin, Forsythe, Noone, Subs  King for Burtenshaw 59, Kirkpatrick, Izeidi, Parker.

Bideford:  Oliver, Sampson, Reed, Downing, Farkins, Gerring, Hockley, Bye, Howe, Duff, Mercieca,  Subs Squire for Howe 85, Orchard, Phillips, Milton for Sampson, 80, Furzer for Duff 72.

Gate 234

There were NO bookings!

Roy Izzard



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