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Hitchin Town 0 Hungerford Town 2

Saturday, February 14 2015

10-man Hitchin fell to a home defeat on Saturday afternoon, as two second half goals from Hungerford earned the visitors three points at Top Field.

The game was lively from the off and a poor back pass from Alasan Ann almost gifted the visitors with an early opportunity to take the lead. Luckily, Canaries' keeper Charlie Horlock had anticipated Ann's pass and had made an early run to the edge of the area to clear the ball from danger.

Ian Rees won Hitchin a free kick in the 12th minute but a good clearance from the Hungerford defence gave them the chance to break. Alan O'Brien was all but through on goal but a well timed tackle from Ben Walster denied the Crusader from venturing forward.

Minutes later, Hitchin hit the visitors with a break of their own and it was Sam Barker who initiated the move by blocking Matt Collins' free kick and passing out to Jonny McNamara, who had the time, space and speed to run the length of the pitch. McNamara slipped the ball wide to Rees but the attack then broke down and the ball was played back to Barker outside the area, with his effort off target.

James Rusby proved to be somewhat of a secret weapon for Hungerford and his impressively long throws were causing problems for the defence. In the 19th minute, one of his throws sailed in to the box and found the head of Charlie Mpi, although he could only head in to the arms of Horlock.

Seconds later, Lucas Kirkpatrick made a good run to create himself some space to get a shot away but his hurried attempt saw him scuff his effort and consequently made for an easy save for Paul Strudley.

A mis-clearance from Walster then gifted O'Brien with the ball and the Crusaders' midfielder found Mpi with his cross. Mpi's header took a deflection off of Ann and hit the crossbar before the Canaries' defence cleared.

In the 34th minute, Draycott dispossessed Michael Noone in midfield and struck a long range effort that caught Horlock off guard, although the Hitchin keeper reacted well to push the swerving shot over the crossbar.

Minutes later, Draycott was in action again but his header made for an easy save as it was directed straight in to the arms of Horlock.

The best chance of the half fell to the home side and Strudley pulled off an excellent save to deny Brett Donnelly from close range after Dan Webb had headed down in to the path of the Canaries' forward.

Half-Time: Hitchin Town 0-0 Hungerford Town

Hungerford took the lead five minutes in to the second half, and it was Mpi who rose highest in the box to head down to an unmarked Gary Horgan who headed home from close range.

The game then took an unfortunate turn as a fracas between several players of both sides saw the referee issue a red card to Donnelly and yellows to Draycott and Lewis Rolfe.

It didn't take long for the man advantage to take effect and soon after Donnelly's dismissal, Draycott found himself through on goal. Horlock rushed out, stayed low and smothered Draycott's shot in what was yet another fantastic save from the consistent keeper.

The visitors, however, got the second goal they were looking for and it was O'Brien on the scoresheet after his powerful strike hit the back of the net in the 69th minute.

Matt Lench came on for Noone and instantly made an impact by causing problems for the defence. The versatile Canary made an excellent run up the left before driving in to the box with ease, although his shot was too tame to trouble Strudley.

Hitchin then had a late opportunity to try and gain a consolation goal but Lench's free kick went straight in to the arms of the Hungerford keeper.

Full-Time: Hitchin Town 0-2 Hungerford Town

Hitchin: Horlock, Rolfe, Walster (Williams 87') Ann (C), Webb, Barker, McNamara, Kirkpatrick (Martin 64'), Donnelly, Rees, Noone (Lench 74')
Subs (not used): Johnson, Smith

Hungerford: Strudley, Horgan, John, Rusby, Day, Pilling, Clark, Collins, Mpi (Wilson 74') Draycott (C) (Goodger 83), O'Brien (Osei-Tutu 82').
Subs (not used): Rees, Munday

Goals: Horgan 50', O'Brien 69' (Hungerford)

Walster, Rolfe (Hitchin)
Pilling, Draycott, (Hungerford)

Donnelly (Hitchin)

Attendance: 315
Hitchin Man of the Match: Ian Rees

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