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Hitchin Town 1 St Albans City 1

Monday, September 2 2013

It was another highly entertaining game at Top Field as old foes Hitchin and St Albans fought out a compelling draw. Throughout the 90 minutes it was end to end thrills as both sides threw everything in to attack. Hitchin created more chances and had more shots but St Albans were always dangerous and with John Frendo back to face his old team the defence were never able to relax.

There was a sense of inevitability about the St Albans goal in the 16th minute. Frendo had failed to score so far this season so who else would he break his duck against but Hitchin! It was a typically clever Frendo finish and Hitchin did not deserve to be behind, Matt Lench having already come close from a Simon Martin cross. The goal did not deter Hitchin who again played an attractive passing game. St Albans offered a very physical presence which at times went too far with referee Nigel Smith booking 5 of their players but Hitchin stood up to this test really well. Indeed Hitchin were as impressive without the ball as with it as they continually pressed any St Albans player in possession forcing mistakes.

After a Jamal Lowe shot was blocked, Robbie Burns seemed sure to score but veteran keeper Paul Bostock made a great save on 20 minutes but 9 minutes later Hitchin equalised in spectacular fashion, Michael Noone smashing in a superb 35 yard thunderbolt that even Bostock could not stop. Burns came close again as Hitchin finished the half on top.

Frendo surprisingly missed a good chance at the start of the second half scuffing his shot. The end to end nature of the game continued with Hitchin holding the upper hand.Callum Donnelly and Lowe each had shots saved before Gary Wharton replaced Martin. He showed electric pace and will certainly be an asset for the future. Hitchin finished the game well on top as the unlucky Burns hit the post and Donnelly had a shot deflected for a corner from which Stuart Pearson put a header agonisingly wide. Hitchin can consider themselves unfortunate not to get the 3 points but St Albans are a good strong side and will be challenging for promotion. The quality of Hitchin's play is certainly being appreciated by the fans who are turning up in increasing numbers. Indeed the excellent crowd of 512 further underlines just how successful Hitchin's move to Monday night has proved.

It was a good team performance making the choice of man of the match very difficult but the sponsor chose Josh Bickerstaff who possibly had his best game for Hitchin. Manager Mark Burke was pleased with the number of chances created and the strong defensive display with just 4 goals conceded in 6 games.

Hitchin: Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Noone, Lench, Pearson, Ann, Donnelly, Martin, Burns, Lowe, Subs Barker, King, Wharton for Martin 82, Burtenshaw, Gregson.

St Albans: Bostock, Hall, Chappell, Gray, Wharton, Locke, Tajbakhsh, Comley, Frendo, Graham, Henry, Bailey, Subs Bailey, Kaloczi, Goss for Henry 77, Ashe for Tajbakhsh 38, Eadie.

Report by: Roy Izzard

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