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Frome Town 2 Hitchin Town 0

Saturday, March 1 2014

This game was effectively done and dusted in just 12 minutes as two early goals from Frome decided the outcome. While Hitchin had plenty of possession for the rest of the game they failed to trouble the strong Frome defence and a comeback never really looked likely to materialise.

The team news was mixed for Hitchin as Dan Webb was not fit enough to start but Alasan Ann passed his fitness test. Michael King replaced the departed Kim Forsythe and Josh Bickerstaff came in to the back three. Matt Lench was on the bench after being given the all clear from his eye injury.

Unfortunately Hitchin made a sluggish start. Matt Smith shot over the bar for Frome after 3 minutes before Garry Jones headed a King cross over the bar. But Frome went ahead after 9 minutes when a corner from Ben Wood was whipped in and no defender was on hand to prevent Tim Stephenson meeting it with a shot from a yard out. Worse was to follow after 12 minutes when sloppy defensive play saw Ben Thompson burst through a static back line and he passed to Ricky Hulbert. His shot was blocked but it fell to Wood who smashed in a shot from 20 yards.

Frome have really improved under manager Adrian Foster and they started the game really on the front foot closing Hitchin down very quickly, denying space, winning headers and with an impressive work rate. There were similarities to Bideford's performance but with more football played.

Hitchin recovered from their poor start and did create half chances with Bickerstaff having a shot saved, Donnelly putting a free kick over the bar and both Simon Martin and Sam Barker having shots blocked. But Frome keeper Darren Chitty was rarely troubled and the same was true of Tahj Bell who other than the goals was rarely troubled.

The second half saw both teams huff and puff but a goal was rarely threatened as both defences remained on top. Frome had two bookings in the 54th minute with Bickerstaff cautioned in the same incident but it was not a dirty game and was well handled by referee Adam Ricketts.

Hitchin replaced Lewis Rolfe with Matt Lench and King with Jemale McKenzie-Lowe early in the second half but despite territorial advantage a goal did not really look like coming as Frome centre back Jack Vallis put in a dominant performance. Gary Wharton came on for Martin but Frome held on to their lead quite comfortably.

So all in all the game was lost after a poor start and despite an improvement the lack of a cutting edge meant the comeback was not to be. Frome showed that you can never relax and need to be on top of your game right from the start otherwise the damage will be done.

Hitchin:  Bell., Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Barker, Ann, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, Martin, King, Jones, Subs  Lench for Rolfe 61, Wharton fr Martin 83, McKenzie-Lowe for King 58, Webb, Burtenshaw

Frome  Chitty, Ford, Cooper, Vallis, Stephenson, Vance, Miller, Smith, Thomso, Hulbert, Wood  Subs Cowler for Smith 89, Mundy for Hulbert 83, Groves for Miller (only 3 subs)

Attendance 223


Hitchin:  Bickerstaff

Frome: Vance, Miller and Thomson

Report by Roy Izzard
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