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AFC Kempston Rovers 2 Hitchin Town 3

Saturday, August 2 2014

Hitchin's final friendly was the archetypal game of two halves. In torrential rain Hitchin made a lacklustre start and the first 45 minutes were as poor as they have played in pre season. Manager Mark Burke did not look happy as he left the pitch at half time and whatever he said to the players during the break had the desired effect as it was a completely different performance in the second half.
Kempston started really well and wanted the ball more and were in the ascendancy from the off. They went ahead as Michael Johnson spilled a cross and Ben Gallant scored from close range. It got worse for Hitchin when Grant Fryer headed home from a corner on 28 minutes. Robbie Burns shot wide on the half hour but the keeper was totally untroubled up to the break. Even simple passes were going astray and Hitchin needed the half time break for the manager to sort things out.
The second half saw Hitchin show real character as they fought their way back in to the game. They were hungrier for the ball, more determined, passed the ball far better and looked much more dangerous. It only took 3 minutes for Simon Martin to score the first goal from 25 yards  out on the left wing after the goalkeeper's clearance ricocheted to him, and after the goalkeeper and centre half were involved in a mix up he struck again after 52 minutes.
Hitchin were well on top and took the lead when Gary Wharton scored from 30 yards after poor judgement from  Aaron Faggan, the hapless Kempston goalkeeper. Michael King came close on 68 minutes and the Hitchin defence was rarely troubled. The majority of substitutions were only made in the last quarter but Hitchin remained in control and twice came close to increasing their lead. George Ironton forced a desperate save from Faggan and in the last minute Martin hit the post to miss out on his hat trick.
So overall it was good to see Hitchin fight back so well from a very slow start but in the season proper they need to be quicker out of the blocks and the manager will ensure this happens. It should be said Hitchin were missing Jonny McNamara and Matt Lench and competition for places is going to be fierce which can only augur well for the season.
Hitchin  Johnson, Rolfe, Corran, Ann, Webb, Barker, Smith, King, Donnelly, Burns, Wharton  Subs Martin, Jones. Kirkpatrick, Ironton, Amu, Powell, Osei-Siribour.
AFC Kemston  Faggan, Gurney, Pinney, Fryer, Stoyks, Marsh, Simpson, Bush, Gallant, Joseph, Johnson, Subs O'Grady, Donaldson plus three triallists names unknown.  

Roy Izzard

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