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Redditch United 0 Hitchin Town 0

Monday, March 9 2015

Hitchin gained a valuable point courtesy of a second successive goalless draw at Redditch. Manager Mark Burke was delighted with a resolute performance from his depleted team against one of the best sides in the league. It looked like being an uphill task for the Canaries with no less than five senior players ruled out. Sam Barker, Brett Donnelly, Ben Walster, Matt Lench and Dan Webb were all missing from the team sheet. This meant Lewis Rolfe moved in to the centre of defence with Dave Corran who had rejoined Hitchin from Arlesey at left back and Kane Smith continuing at right back.

With Redditch pushing for a play off place and unbeaten in five games it was no surprise they started at a high tempo. They are one of the quickest sides in the league and if they score an early goal they can sweep any team away. But this was a gritty, determined Hitchin side with players prepared to put their bodies on the line and they defended heroically. Charlie Horlock was again at the top of his game and made two brilliant saves in the first half from Ashley Sammons and George Carline while Sammons also hit a shot over the bar.

Nat Peacock looked for a penalty after 32 minutes but the referee was not interested and it was the 41st minute before Hitchin won their first corner. Alasan Ann was booked before the break and Smith seemed very unlucky to follow him in the book having appeared to win the ball in a fair tackle. Hitchin worked really hard to keep the scores level at half time and it was no more than they deserved.

The second half saw Hitchin come in to the game more as an attacking force as Redditch could not keep the same attacking tempo. Jonny McNamara shot just wide from a free kick after 64 minutes. He looked likely to score after 76 minutes but was thwarted by a perfectly timed block tackle. Courtney Richardson lifted a shot over the bar from a good position but Hitchin continued to limit the chances Redditch created with further fine defending.

The last few minutes saw Redditch have one last push for a goal and on 86 minutes Smith produced one of the tackles of the season inside the penalty area. Had he got it wrong he would have been sent off and conceded a penalty. But young Kane put in another fine performance throughout and showed real maturity on only his second start. There was to be one final scare for Hitchin when a free kick was conceded on the edge of the penalty area. Horlock somehow produced a remarkable save to push the ball past the post despite all the bodies blocking his view and this ensured Hitchin gained the point their performance richly deserved.

So despite being shorn of so many key players the squad depth was shown to be able to cope with the situation. It was a real team performance and every player put in a great shift with the midfield working their socks off and Peacock winning any number of headers. The defence really deserved their clean sheet and Rolfe looked really comfortable as a centre back.

TEAMS

HITCHIN Horlock, Rolfe, Smith, Ann, Corran, Kirkpatrick, McNamara, Donnelly C, Peacock, Rees, Williams Subs Noone, Johnson,Martin, Okojie, Wright (none used)

REDDITCH Hornby, Jones, Liburd, Dinsley, McDonald, Maye, Spink, Phillips, Sammons, Carline Subs Caines, Molyneux for Spink 79, Richardson for Phillips 58, Angus for Maye 68, Catlow

BOOKINGS

HITCHIN Ann, Smith

REDDITCH McDonald, Flanagan,Jones

Attendance 176

Roy Izzard



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