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Chippenham Town 2 Hitchin Town 3

Saturday, February 28 2015

Saul Williams was the two goal hero as Hitchin quickly recovered from their heaviest defeat of the season last week at St Neots. Yet he only came on as a half time substitute because of the fear of Matt Lench being sent off. He was booked in the 42nd minute for shirt pulling and just before half time committed another foul. The Hitchin fans anxiously awaited to see what action referee Mr Parsons would take but he chose not to show a second yellow card. However it was obvious Lench would have no margin for error for the rest of the game and manager Mark Burke sensibly replaced him with Williams for the second half.
Just two minutes in to his appearance Williams produced a clever finish from an acute angle on the left to restore the Hitchin lead and on 70 minutes produced an even better finish after a clever set up by Jonny McNamara. Wiiliams showed good pace and with his excellent finishing he has certainly given the manager the best kind of selection dilemmas.
The team that Hitchin sent out had some notable absentees as the Donnelly brothers were both suspended while Simon Martin and new signing Austin Eaton were unavailable Nat Peacock returned up front as a 4-2-3-1 system was employed with Sam Barker and Ian Rees the holding midfield players.
It was soon apparent that last week's performance had been consigned to history as Charlie Horlock was back to his usual confident self with exemplary handling throughout, while the defence was on the ball from the first whistle with Alasan Ann and Dan Webb keeping the dangerous pairing of Charles Griffin and Ashan Holgate on a tight reign.  The good start led to a goal after 7 minutes that was somewhat scrappy. Rees had a shot headed clear but it rebounded in to the net after hitting keeper Kent Kauppinen.
McNamara was an ever present threat making a number of dangerous runs from one of which Peacock was unfortunate to have two shots blocked. Peacock then shot wide but after a spell out of the side made a hard working comeback.
McNamara had a good penalty claim refused after 19 minutes and Hitchin could have had the game wrapped up in the first 20 minutes.
However Chippenham did come back in the game and Griffin missed a great chance when he headed over the bar. On 35 minutes slack defending allowed Michael Pook to shoot home from 30 yards. Peacock had a further chance  when he shot wide but it was all square at half time.
Hitchin had the advantage of going down the considerable slope in the second half and Williams took full advantage with his first goal.. There was heroic defending in the 55th minute with a double clearance off the line but the second Williams goal seemed to settle matters.
But three minutes in to injury time Chippenham scored a second when Alex Ferguson netted from close range, and  the referee played six minutes of injury time before  he blew the final whistle. Overall Hitchin deserved the win which sets up the rest of the season to push for a top ten finish. Great character was shown after four defeats in the last five games and with six games at home and just four away a positive finish to the season can be achieved.
The oldest player in Hitchin's starting eleven was 24 year old Dan Webb, with all the other players 23 or younger. When Michael Noone at 27 came on in the 83rd minute he must have felt almost like a veteran!
Horlock, Rolfe, Walster, Ann, Webb, Barker, McNamara, Lench, Peacock, Rees, Kirkpatrick Subs  Noone for Barker 83, Johnson, Williams for Lench 46, Smith, Okojie
Kauppinen,McCormack, Beeden, Roberts, Tindle, Preece, Ferguson, Pook, Griffin, Holgate, Odam  Subs Campbell for McCormack 83, Norman, Coupe for Tindle 60, Guthrie for Odam 65, Smith

Hitchin  Lench, Rolfe, Noone

Chippenham  Guthrie, Roberts,
Attendance 315
Roy Izzard

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