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Cambridge City 3 Hitchin Town 2

Wednesday, December 18 2013

Hitchin's winning sequence came to an end in controversial fashion at Histon on a night where referee John Steel seemed determined to try and be the centre of attention--- and he succeeded in this objective by issuing 8 yellow cards and one red card in a game that while keenly contested was hardly a bloodbath. He simply failed to take account of the terrible conditions with a gale force wind and torrential rain making fluent football impossible and inevitably leading to mistimed tackles.

But while beaten Hitchin emerged with great credit and manager Mark Burke was delighted his team was able to match a Cambridge City side lying third in the table and with the extra financial muscle that led to Robbie Burns making the switch to Gary Roberts' team. Even when down to ten men Hitchin were impressive and were certainly worth a draw.

Hitchin were dealt a blow before the game as Dan Webb and Matt Lench were ruled out and then Cambridge kicked off with the gale force wind at their backs. So difficult were the conditions that clearing lines was a risky process but Hitchin still played neat football and did not resort to hit and hope football. Callunm Donnelly scuffed an early chance before Stuart Pearson made a brilliant interception after 24 minutes. However two minutes later Josh Beech headed home a corner  that the wind made very difficult to defend.

Simon Martin just failed to make contact with a teasing cross before Michael Noone shot wide as Hitchin responded well but after Josh Bickerstaff was booked for a high challenge the free kick was well saved by Tahj Bell only for Kelvin Bossman to put in the rebound. Pearson was then booked despite winning the ball before Hitchin were rewarded for their good football when Martin flicked in a Garry Jones cross after 39 minutes. Donnelly was booked before half time which ended with Sam Barker shooting just wide.

With the huge advantage of the wind in the second half Hitchin were dominant. Noone had a shot tipped over the bar by Zac Barrett while Donnelly should have done better with an attempted chip. Terry Dixon replaced Donnelly but disaster struck after 63 minutes when Noone was sent off for what seemed at worst a yellow card offence not being helped by the reaction of ex Canary Ieuan Lewis to the challenge. More bizarre refereeing saw Dixon and Rogan McGeorge  being booked after a melee with no Cambridge player  being punished.

But after 72 minutes Dixon scored a well taken goal to put Hitchin level and it seemed a draw would be a fair result before 2 minutes in to injury time Mr Steel adjudged Lewis Rolfe to have committed a foul in the penalty area when many thought it was outside and Adam Marriott smashed home the penalty.

Cambridge are a very good side but Hitchin matched them all the way in another excellent performance and with so many decisions going against them defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.

Hitchin:  Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Barker, Jones, Pearson, McGeorge, Donnelly, Martin, Forsythe, Noone  Subs King, Wharton, Dixon for Donnelly 58, Burtenshaw, Gregson

Cambridge:  Barrett, Pepper, Brighton, Beasant, Chaffey, Beech,  Ramm, Martin, Bossman, Marriott, Dawkin. Subs Lewis for Ramm 60, Burns for Martin 81, Midgley, Prada, Ordonez

Attendance: 288

Roy Izzard



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