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Hitchin Town 2 Poole Town 2

Saturday, September 7 2013

A two-goal burst in the final three minutes denied the Canaries victory and maintained Poole Town's unbeaten start to the season.

Despite the late setback, Hitchin Town's young side continues to grow in confidence and defy the pre-season doubters. They were desperately unlucky not to have beaten Poole, the league leaders, but Poole overcame a sending off and showed great character in coming from two-down to earn a point.

The teams were:
Hitchin: Hulman, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Noone (Barker 62) Lench, Pearson, Burtenshaw, Donnelly, King, Burns (Wharton h/t), Lowe
Subs not used: Segwete, Kirkpatrick, J.Gregson

Thomas, Clarke (Ohamje 23, Byerley 69), Spetch, Oliver, Whisken, Pettefer, Jagger-Kane, Devlin, Gillespie, Preston, Cann
Subs not used: Elliott, Brooks

Ref: P.Evans

The Canaries had to contend with a couple of pre-match blows, goalkeeper Tahj Bell was ruled out with a shoulder problem and veteran front-man Simon Martin was injured in the pre-match warm-up.

But it was a bright opening with both sides pushing the ball round the pitch nicely. Hitchin had the first chance of the game, a tame shot by King that was deflected for a corner.

Hitchin took the lead after 21 minutes, King shooting low into the net after Lewis Rolfe's cross was touched on by Matt Lench.

King went close to adding to Hitchin's lead just before the interval, going up to meet Rolfe's high ball into the area with Poole goalkeeper Dan Thomas but seeing his header roll wide of the target.

For all Poole's energy, they were unable to threaten Hitchin's stand-in keeper David Hulman.

Hitchin could have extended their lead when Jamal Lowe controlled King's cross and volleyed over and Gary Wharton's run ended with a low shot that was deflected for a corner.

Poole received a blow to their hopes when skipper Dan Cann was shown a second yellow card after felling Callum Donnelly. Poole responded immediately with a shot from Jacob Jagger-Kane that was well saved by Hulman.

But Hitchin continued to have the upper hand. Lowe struck the crossbar with a free-kick from the edge of the area and in the 79th minute, King netted his second goal, running onto a long ball by Rolfe and brushing aside a defender before shooting just inside Thomas' right hand post.

Poole refused to give up, and Richard Gillespie should have scored when he met a corner with the Hitchin defence in confusion. Gillespie had his moment in the 88th minute, scrambling the ball home after two earlier efforts were blocked.

Two minutes later, Poole's recovery was completed when a long cross to the far post was powered into the net by the head of defender Will Spetch. Rough justice, perhaps for Hitchin, but manager Mark Burke was still upbeat about the outcome. "Against the league leaders, I would have taken a point before kick-off," he said. "We became anxious in the closing stages but that comes down to experience - this is a young team and it is learning. I couldn't be more pleased with the way the season has started."

Report by Neil Jensen

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