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St Neots Town 1 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, March 15 2014

This was an excellent performance from Hitchin against an in form St Neots who had only lost one of their last fifteen games in all competitions. It was an absorbing game with plenty of good football played and while a draw was probably a fair result it was Hitchin who looked the more likely to win. The playing surface was very good and this helped Hitchin to play their passing game as they showed the confidence gained from successive victories.

Hitchin played 3-5-2 with Stuart Pearson playing alongside Josh Bickerstaff and Alasan Ann at the back as Dan Webb was on the bench. Simon Martin had a sore groin so Michael King played up front and Sam Barker returned to the midfield. From the beginning Hitchin played on the front foot and after 18 minutes Nathan Abbey blocked a Mitchell Bryant shot that followed a good passing move. But 2 minutes later Bryant beat Abbey with a stunning finish to give Hitchin a well deserved lead.

King headed wide from a Charlie Smith free kick but St Neots equalised with another good finish as Jay Davies gave Tahj Bell no chance. It was tough on Hitchin and St Neots then had their best spell of the game up to half time as they showed how much they had improved since Zeema Abbey took over as manager.

Hitchin started the second half still playing their football and Barker was particularly impressive. Hitchin's work rate was impressive and they closed St Neots down very quickly. The game was hard fought but fair with each side picking up 2 cautions. Lewis Rolfe replaced Matt Lench after 54 minutes and soon after Callum Donnelly put a lob just over the bar. On 69 minutes Bryant had a shot easily saved before King shot just wide as Hitchin were still pushing forward. Matt Nolan missed a good chance for St Neots by shooting past the post as the game remained in the balance,

St Neots used all three subs while Gary Wharton came on for King as any result was still possible but Hitchin came closest to snatching victory in the 90th minute when a ball was cleared to Ann on the edge of the box and he hit a thumping drive that Abbey pushed over the bar---he almost struck it too well and it was unfortunately the right height for Abbey to reach. A victory would have been the icing on the cake but a point at St Neots is still a very good return and the quality of the football was really impressive as Mark Burke's squad continues to improve and the potential for next season is there for all to see.

Finally the Hitchin fans did the club proud as getting on for 100 turned out and provided great support for the team.

TEAMS

HITCHIN Bell, Lench, Bickerstaff, Barker, Ann, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, King, Bryant, Jones  Subs  Martin, Rolfe for Lench 54, Wharton for King 87, Webb, McKenzie-Lowe

ST NEOTS Abbey, Lee, Adjei, Farrell, Frater, Hoyte, Woolley, CDracknell, Nolan, Davies, Hilliard  Subs  Tolley for Davies 75, Thomas for Nolan 84, Ferrari, Nkinga for Woolley 62, Swan

Attendane 464

Bookings  Hitchin  Ann and Bryant

St Neots  Farrell and Nkinga

Roy Izzard



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