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Hitchin Town 1 Stourbridge 1

Saturday, April 26 2014

Stourbridge gained the one point they needed to secure a play-off place as they drew 1-1 with Hitchin Town at Top Field. 

It looked set to be a promising game, as Stourbridge had a chance inside the first minute. A shot from Captain Sean Geddes was cleared for a corner, with Tahj Bell then punching clear in a tightly packed box.

However, the exciting start was not to be continued and the game somewhat fell flat as neither side could find consistency within their game. Stourbridge did have the upper-hand but they weren't particularly eager to go on the attack.

A moment of awareness from Stourbridge keeper Dean Coleman gifted his side with a goal in the 15th minute. After noticing Brian Smikle was poorly marked up field, he lofted the ball straight up to him. A nice turn from Smikle saw him through for one-on-one with Bell and he coolly slotted the ball to the bottom left of the goal.

The goal induced determination into Stourbridge and the team pressured Hitchin into errors, giving them little time and space to find rhythm in their game.

It was Canary defender Alasan Ann who took charge of trying to get Hitchin back in to the game, getting forward on numerous occasions and putting in dangerous crosses into the Stourbridge box. Tight defending from the away side and too few Canary men forward meant his crosses were missed opportunities.

On the half-hour mark, Canary Captain Callum Donnelly found himself with enough time and space to get a shot away, although it was straight at goalkeeper Dean Coleman. 
Shortly after, Brian Smikle tried to capitalise on Bell's absence off his line, chipping the ball towards the goal. It was just over the bar.

A free-kick for Hitchin saw Charlie Smith step-up. Anticipation from the home fans could be felt around the ground, followed by frustration as they watched the ball skim the top of the net. It was excruciatingly close.

Hitchin's best chance of the half was a result of frantic defending from Stourbridge. Matt Lench saw his shot deflected over the bar for a corner, of which Dan Webb headed on to the crossbar. The ball then fell to Stuart Pearson, who saw his effort unconvincingly palmed away by Coleman. The ball only made it as far as Sam Barker, who immediate put the ball back in to the box, only to see it evade everyone.

Hitchin Town 0-1 Stourbridge

It was Stourbridge who had the first chance of the second-half, Kyle Haynes flying down the wing and whipping the ball across the face of goal. Any sort of touch and it would have been 2-0.

Hitchin started to look to get the ball up to 'man of the moment' Gary Wharton. It didn't take long for Stourbridge to notice the danger of his pace though, quickly deciding to put two defenders on him.

Stourbridge's Kyle Haynes increasingly looked the most determined player on the pitch, often getting forward with ease and trying his luck from long-range, which consequently was well off-target.

The 66th minute saw Hitchin grab an equaliser, as an unbelievably packed Stourbridge box resulted in some chaotic defending. Michael King made the most of the over-populated area and fired home to level the score.

Hitchin were then the more threatening and Stourbridge were in no hurry to take any goal-kick, free-kick or throw in they were awarded. 

A couple of late corners for Hitchin could have spoiled the Stourbridge party at the last minute but one was cleared from danger and the other was a comfortable catch for Coleman.

Drama ensued in injury time when several Hitchin players protested to the referee that there was a handball in the box. The referee, however, was quick to dismiss the protests and the game was then over.

Hitchin Town 1-1 Stourbridge

Hitchin: Bell, Ann, Bickerstaff, Barker, Webb, Pearson (Burtenshaw 45'), Smith (Kirkpatrick), Donnelly, Martin (King), Wharton, Lench. Unused Subs: Morrison, Parker

Stourbridge: Coleman, Smikle, Knight, Richards, Geddes (Sansara), Harris, Haynes, Broadhurst, Brown, Billingham, Canavan (Fitzpatrick) Unused Subs: Francis, Kettle, Washbourne

Goals: Smikle 15' - Stourbridge, King 66' - Hitchin Town

Attendance: 476

Hitchin Man of the Match: Alasan Ann


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