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Chesham United 1 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, February 1 2014

To say that Chesham have been Hitchin's bogey side is somewhat of an understatement. They had failed to beat them in 20 attempts before this historic victory and the last home win was in the 1994-5 season and the last win at Chesham was in the 1993-4 season so no win will be sweeter for Hitchin this season.

It was no fluke either as Hitchin fully deserved their victory over second placed Chesham who as expected fielded Darren Purse who played over 800 Premier and Football League games while up front Chris Dillon and Drew Roberts had already scored 38 goals between them. Indeed this performance must rank as possibly the best of the season as Chesham were desperate to close the gap on leaders Hemel Hempstead whose game had been postponed.

Manager Mark Burke had not been happy with the most recent league performances and decided to go for a tactical reshuffle and replaced the normal 4-2-3-1 formation with a 3-5-2 variation and it has to be said the new system worked impeccably. Kim Forsythe partnered the returning Simon Martin up front while Dan Webb, Stuart Pearson and Josh Bickerstaff were the back three. Garry Jones and Lewis Rolfe provided width while Callum Donnelly had a free role with Charlie Smith and Sam Barker holding. With the new system working so well Mark now knows he can play different styles depending on varying types of opponents.

Chesham kicked down the slope with a strong wind behind them in the first half but Hitchin more than held their own. Smith shot just wide before Toby Little shot just over the bar for Chesham early on. Donnelly was booked for a foul before Dillon headed wide. Forsythe nearly gave Hitchin the lead after 15 minutes but Shane Gore made a good save and Donnelly's follow up shot was cleared off the line. But 3 minutes later Hitchin did take the lead as a short Donnelly corner was met first time by Barker whose shot was going wide before it hit Mark Lambert and went in to the net for what was originally thought to be an own goal but it later transpired was further deflected off Martin's hip to beat the goalkeeper. As with any forward he was keen to claim the goal!

Barker shot just wide but Chesham equalised in controversial fashion after 30 minutes. Purse appeared to deliberately pass back to his goalkeeper via his knee but the referee was happy to not give a free kick and from the kick out the ball was worked to Bruce Wilson who finished in emphatic style to bring the scores level. Tahj Bell had no chance but throughout his handling was first class.

Jones had a shot well saved after 39 minutes but it remained 1-1 at half time. The wind was nowhere near as strong in the second half and the sun actually came out. Hitchin took the lead with one of the best goals of the season on 59 minutes as an excellent move ended with a super pass from Rolfe to Donnelly who hit a 20 yard shot that was inch perfect as it dipped over Gore's head.

The returning Alasan Ann replaced Jones and moved in to the back three as Hitchin continued to play good football. Smith shot just wide before Dillon had a shot blocked by his own player. A fumble by Gore led to Barker hitting the bar as Hitchin continued to create chances. Michael King replaced Forsythe and Michael Noone came on for Barker before the end and there were only a couple of worrying moments as Chesham failed to break down a resilient Hitchin defence. After 5 minutes of injury time the Chesham bogey was well and truly laid to rest.

So an excellent performance with it really being an all round team effort with the sizeable and voiciferous away support playing their part too.

Hitchin:  Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Barker, Webb, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, Martin, Forsythe, Jones  Subs Noone for Barker 86, Gregson, King for Forsythe 79, Ann for Jones 63, Okojie.

Chesham: Gore, Kyriacou, Little, Lambert, Purse, Potton, Fotheringham, Wales, Dillon, Roberts, Wilson,  Subs  Hamilton for Wales 83, Braithwaite, Stewart, Brown, Thomas for Fotheringham 83.

Attendance 451


Chesham:  Purse

Hitchin:  Donnelly

Report by Roy Izzard

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