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Hitchin Town 0 Hungerford Town 2

Monday, April 7 2014

Hitchin suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of an in form Hungerford side who recorded an eighth consecutive league victory to further challenge for a play off place. But it was the performance of referee Mr Novak that was the main talking point of the evening as his decisions shaped the outcome of the game and Hitchin have every right to feel a sense of injustice.
Hitchin again set up with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Josh Bickerstaff coming in at left back and Garry Jones moving in to midfield, while Simon Martin was rested with Michael King moving up to be the striker. The early exchanges were fairly even but the 23rd minute dismissal of Jones turned the game. Those close to the incident were convinced Hungerford full back Mark Hughes was guilty of violent conduct towards Jones but this was not seen by the referee or linesmen and Jones was sent off for retaliation. The Hitchin players were incensed by this one sided interpretation of the incident but Mr Novak only went on to further infuriate Hitchin with more questionable decisions.
Playing Hungerford with 11 men is difficult enough so going down to 10 was a mountain to climb for Hitchin and Hungerford took the lead through a Matt Day header on 30 minutes. Day headed wide from another good opportunity  six minutes later  but in added time at the end of the half Hitchin appeared to have equalised when a Charlie Smith shot was deflected and appeared to have crossed the line before being scooped back by keeper Paul Strudley. Play carried on and with Strudley clearly not having the ball under control Alasan Ann challenged him and put the ball in the net. Somehow Mr Novak gave a foul and so Hitchin were denied a goal twice in the same incident.
Mark Burke sought an explanation from Mr Novak as the players left the field but the damage was done. Martin replaced Donnelly after 55 minutes  but Hungerford sealed their win when Stefan Brown broke from what looked an offside position to steer a good finish past Tahj Bell. Rogan McGeorge made a welcome return when he replaced Smith after 75 minutes and soon after Martin had Hitchin's best chance of the evening but Strudley saved his shot and King's follow up was blocked.
Hungerford looked a very decent outfit and were full of confidence from their unbeaten run. They worked hard and produced a high tempo performance and it is to Hitchin's great credit that with so much against them they remained in the game to the end. It is a great pity that Mr Nowak remained the dominant influence on the game and he also managed to book three Hitchin players while Hungerford did not suffer even one booking which summed up the evening for the Canaries.
So it is now a local derby at Biggleswade on Thursday and let us hope the focus is on the game of football and not on the performance of the man in black.
Hitchin:  Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, King, Lench, Jones  Subs  Martin for Donnelly 55, McGeorge for Smith 75, Corran, McKenzie-Lowe, Okojie
Hungerford:  Strudley, Hughes, John, Horgan, Day, Rees, Clark, Brewer, Brown, Draycott, Stanley  Subs Goodger for Draycott 84, Webb, Boardman for Stanley, O'Brien, Stow
Attendance 235
Roy Izzard 

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