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Hitchin Town 1 Paulton Rovers 0

Monday, August 18 2014

Hitchin made it two home wins on the bounce on Monday night as a Lewis Rolfe penalty was enough to take all three points against Paulton Rovers.


Hitchin started brightly, with Robbie Burns making useful runs through the Paulton defence. The through balls to him were just too heavy though and Paulton goalkeeper Kyle Phillips was alert enough to get to the ball first.


Burns' persistence, however, eventually paid off and after making a well-timed run, he received the ball and whipped in a cross. It was a good cross but Hitchin were a little slow to react and an opportunity was missed.


Paulton were a little stifled by Hitchin in the opening stages but Brandon Barnes did find some space to try a shot from long range. It was, however, well off-target.


Hitchin's Garry Jones also tried his luck from long range. His initial shot was well blocked by the Paulton defence, although the ball fell nicely back to him to give him a second chance. Unfortunately, he mistimed his strike of the ball and it swerved well off-target.


Paulton had a good chance when, on a counter-attack, the ball was switched over to Keiran Baggs. Baggs lost his marker and made a run around the back of the Hitchin defence. It looked like a cross was on the cards but Baggs' touch was just too heavy and the ball went out of play for a goal-kick.


Matt Lench was on good form again as he made numerous runs up the wing. After winning a corner, he went on to almost score from it, as Burns played a clever ball in to him. An alert Paulton defence just about got there in front of Lench and cleared the ball from his path.


Hitchin had another good chance midway through the first-half, which started from a Burns corner. The corner evaded all in the box but found its way to Charlie Smith, who put the ball back in to the area. Tinashe Chabata was gifted a free header but looked to put it in to the path of one of his teammates and headed across the face of goal, rather than towards it.


As the first-half went on, it was Paulton's Jon Davies who became the one to watch for the visitors when it came to their attacks - showing skill with the ball as he raced upfield on several occasions.


Huge credit must be given to Hitchin goalkeeper Martin Bennett, who put in a confident and solid performance. On a number of occasions he was quick off of his line - the best of those coming as he stopped a shot from Nick McCootie. McCootie had lost his marker Lewis Rolfe and was all but free to get a clean shot away but Bennett rushed out and spread himself wide. The ball barely left McCootie's feet before it hit Bennett's body and consequently cleared to safety.


McCootie was in action moments later but his long-range effort was well wide.


Paulton should have been 1-0 up when a dangerous cross, combined with poor defending, left McCootie completely unmarked with a free header. Bennett had not yet got across to cover the goal as the cross came flying in but McCootie missed what was the best chance of the first-half as his header went wide of the post.


A foul on Burns just outside the area gave Smith the opportunity to put a useful ball in to a crowded box. The free-kick sailed over to Brett Donnelly but his header, flicked on backwards, went well over the bar.




Hitchin Town 0-0 Paulton Rovers


It was Paulton who started the second-half the brighter side and Davies had an early shot on goal, although it was an easy save for Bennett.


Minutes later Bennett pulled off a fine save to deny Ashley Williams, with the Hitchin keeper getting down quickly to direct the ball out for a corner. The corner once again created an overcrowded box and although the ball in led to little in terms of a Paulton opportunity, it did leave Donnelly and Rolfe down injured in the box.


Paulton then created a good chance thanks to a well placed ball up to McCootie. McCootie again did well to lose his marker but once again couldn't beat 'sweeper keeper' Bennett, who rushed out quickly to deny the Paulton forward yet another opportunity.


A nice move from Burns and McNamara gave McNamara with the time and space to get a shot on goal. After initiating the move with a pass to Burns, McNamara made a run, received the ball back from Burns and got a shot away. The shot, though, was a relatively easy save for Phillips as there was little power behind it.


In the 85th minute the deadlock was finally broken by Hitchin, with McNamara being brought down inside the box after making an excellent run upfield. It was Paulton Captain Scott Brice who brought down the Hitchin midfielder. Lewis Rolfe stepped up and slotted home with confidence to put the Canaries in front.


Paulton had a penalty shout of their own in the final stages of the game but the protests were all but ignored by the referee.


With the late goal causing an upset for the away side, they decided to throw everybody forward at any given opportunity, including their keeper Phillips.


The last piece of action was a free-kick awarded to Paulton for a Smith foul. The free-kick, however, was all but wasted as it evaded everyone except Hitchin keeper Bennett, who caught the ball with ease.




Hitchin 1-0 Paulton Rovers



Hitchin Town: Bennett, Rolfe, Walster, Ann, Chabata, Jones (Barker 61'), McNamara, Lench, Donnelly, Burns (Martin 75'), Smith. Unused Subs: King, Wharton, Ironton


Paulton Rovers: Phillips, Tovey (Gibbons 80'), Mapstone, Baggs, Brice, Barnes, Knowles, Williams, Bryant, Davies, McCootie. Unused Subs: Jeffries, Seary, Hinder


Goals: Rolfe 85'

Attendance: 237

Man of the Match: Charlie Smith

Bookings -

Hitchin: Jones, Lench, Barker, Smith

Paulton Rovers: Baggs



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