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Weymouth 1 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, March 29 2014

This was another good performance by Hitchin who can consider themselves unfortunate not to have returned from Weymouth with all three points. Weymouth came in to the game on the back of four consecutive victories but it was the Canaries who played the better football with their passing game again impressing. Conditions were not easy with a very strong wind making life difficult for the players so it is to both teams' credit that an entertaining match transpired.

The team news for Hitchin was not good. Sam Barker was out because of the injury he picked up on Thursday while Mitchell Bryant dropped out through sickness. Nick Burtenshaw and Jemale McKenzie-Lowe were also absent with the result that Hitchin could only name three substitutes including Adam Parker and Matt Lench who was not fit to play the whole 90 minutes due to a groin problem.

Mark Burke decided to play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Stuart Pearson playing right back with Lewis Rolfe and Charlie Smith the two holding midfield players. With the wind behind them Hitchin made a positive start. Callum Donnelly shot wide after 3 minutes and after an excellent Michael King pass he had another shot deflected wide soon after. King himself came close after a fine passing move as Hitchin continued to dominate. Isaac Vassell, the cousin of Darius and on loan from Plymouth shot wide with Weymouth's first chance but Hitchin nearly took the lead when Simon Martin just failed to get his head to Donnelly's free kick.

Vassell headed wide from a good chance before Donnelly, who was consistently in the thick of the action, hit a venomous shot that produced the save of the day from Jason Matthews. Just before half time Donnelly came close again and Hitchin were unfortunate not to be ahead at half time.

After 53 minutes Martin used his hand to divert a Donnelly shot in to the net for which he earned a booking and he was replaced by Lench after 59 minutes. This saw King move up front with Lench on the right side in midfield. The move paid instant dividends when just 5 minutes later a super through ball from Donnelly put Lench through and his finish was cool and composed. Gary Wharton replaced Garry Jones but after 73 minutes Weymouth equalised with a goal from their best player Vassell. Hitchin did not clear their lines well enough and Vassell picked up the loose ball 25 yards out and smashed a shot in to the corner of the net.

Despite playing against the wind Hitchin continued to play good football and came desperately close to a winner in the 89th minute. King played Wharton in and his shot slipped agonisingly the wrong side of the post with the keeper beaten so the game finished all square.

Bearing in mind the stretched resources and the fact that they had played a tough game on Thursday night Hitchin played really well against confident opponents. It was a real team performance and again showed the potential this team have.

Hitchin:  Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, Martin, King, Jones, Subs Lench for Martin 59, Wharton for Jones 71, Parker

Weymouth:  Matthews, Wells, Green, Colwell, Hutchings, Richards, Kelly, Jagger-Crane, Rigg, Vassell,  Subs McConnellfor Wells 90=4, Walker for Colwell 63, Walker, Ford, Holland

Attenance 527

Bookings  Hitchin       Ann, Martin, Rolfe
              Weymouth  Cowell, Wells

PS  The Weymouth programme featured an interview with a Hitchin fan but who is Sheridan Sparkes???

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