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Hitchin Town 2 Bishops Stortford 2 (3-4 on pens)

Thursday, April 17 2014

Heartbreak for Hitchin Town last night as a penalty shoot-out decided their fate as runners-up in the Herts Charity Cup.

It took just six minutes for the Canaries to take the lead. Lewis Rolfe initiated the move, finding space down the wing and putting a ball in to the box. Callum Donnelly swung his leg but mistimed and made no contact, with the ball finding its way through to Matt Lench. Lench's shot was blocked but Rolfe had carried on his run, capitalising on the fall of the ball from the  block and slotting home for 1-0.

The goal injected further life in to an already fast-paced start. Shots from Bishops Stortford's Ashley Miller and Hitchin's Callum Donnelly provided much entertainment, with Hitchin's Stuart Pearson creating excitement with a header that went over the crossbar.

The Canaries were the more dominant side, at times controlling the pace of the game with ease and Bishops Stortford's double substitution in the first-half may have been a reaction to their obvious threat. Hall and Baker replaced Costa and Akurang.

Canary keeper Tahj Bell made a great reaction save. Bishops Stortford's Jordan Brown made a fantastic run down the wing, putting in a late ball that took a deflection off Canary defender Alasan Ann. Bell did well to keep it out.

The Canaries missed an opportunity from a corner, when Donnelly and Martin caught the defence off-guard and played a short one at the edge of the box. Martin's shot, however, was off-target and the opportunity was missed.

Half-Time: Hitchin Town 1-0 Bishops Stortford

Bishops Stortford were like a different team in the second-half, starting brightly with Ashley Miller having a couple of early chances. In the 60th minute they got their equaliser, when Hitchin's Alasan Ann gave away a penalty. Brian Woodall stepped up and scored.

The equaliser then had the Bishops Stortford team further determined and they were far the more forceful with numerous chances, although Hitchin weren't completely out of it. Donnelly and King linked up well on one occasion but Donnelly's shot was poor and good goalkeeping from Joe Wright denied Dan Webb on another.

Full-Time: Hitchin Town 1-1 Bishops Stortford

Extra Time

Gary Wharton brought some much-needed life in to the Canaries' game - his pace causing all sorts of trouble for the Bishops Stortford defence. However, it didn't stop the Canaries from going down 2-1, a free-kick coming off of the post and Jake Hall slotting home to put Bishops Stortford in front in the 93rd minute.

It took just four minutes for the Canaries to get back in to the game. Michael King switched play across field to Matt Lench, who put the ball in to the box. The clearance fell straight to Sam Barker, who took a touch before firing in to the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.

First-Half Extra Time: Hitchin Town 2-2 Bishops Stortford

Gary Wharton was unlucky not to get a goal in the second-half of extra time, his work rate alone making him deserved of a score sheet mention. His first attempt came off the crossbar, with King following up with a shot that went wide. His second attempt was just as excruciatingly close and a huge let-off for keeper Wright, who mistakenly ran out but was relieved to see Wharton's shot go wide of the post.

It was an incredibly tense few minutes for both sides as extra time drew to a close but the closer it got to the final whistle, the more inevitable it was that this game was to be decided by penalties.

Penalty Shoot-out

1. Lench - Hitchin - Goal
2. Church - Bishops Stortford - Goal
3. Smith - Hitchin - Miss
4. Johnson - Bishops Stortford - Miss
5. Jones - Hitchin - Goal
6. Richens - Bishops Stortford - Goal
7. Bickerstaff - Hitchin - Goal
8. Baker - Bishops Stortford - Goal
9. Ann - Hitchin - Miss
10. Woodall - Bishops Stortford - Goal

Bishops Stortford win 4-3 on penalties.

Hitchin: Bell, Rolfe (Jones), Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly (Wharton), Martin (King), Barker, Lench. Unused Subs: Burtenshaw, Bennett

Bishops Stortford: Wright, Miller (Fagbohun), Brown, Allen, McNaughton, Richens, Johnson, Church, Woodall, Akurang (Baker), Costa (Hall), Unused Subs: Cowler, Milbourne

Attendance: 367


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