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Cirencester Town 2 Hitchin Town 3

Saturday, January 10 2015

Three consecutive wins, nine games unbeaten and a victory achieved with ten men after Callum Donnelly was wrongly sent off in the 56th minute led to manager Mark Burke praising the strength and depth of the current squad. He said he was now able to vary formations and change personnel with no loss of quality. This inspired win showed how true this was. Against a Cirencester team lying fifth in the table Burke opted for a 4-4-1-1 system with Simon Martin the lone striker and Callum Donnelly playing behind him, while Brett Donnelly and Nat Peacock were on the bench.
While it was very windy the pitch played really well after the heavy rain of recent days and the match was full of incident and deserving of a better crowd than the 137 present, a quarter of whom were Hitchin fans. Cirencester are a well drilled and organised side and had only lost two league games at home and had only conceded 29 goals in total. The first half was fairly even with Matt Lench producing a good run and shot after 5 minutes before he made a brilliant headed clearance off the line at the other end. Callum Donnelly and Martin produced a good move which saw a dangerous cross cleared before Charlie Horlock made a good save from Ian Herring.
Lench should have put Hitchin ahead after 27 minutes when he had a great chance but almost had too much time and hit the post but to be fair he was struggling with illness and was replaced at half time by Michael Noone.. The miss looked costly when thee minutes later Josh Parsons slotted home at the far post after a good cross from Aidan Bennett. Parsons had been booked just before his goal. Hitchin kept playing and a great passing move between Jonny McNamara and Callum Donnelly saw Donnelly hit a shot against the same post that denied Lench.
McNamara was in unstoppable form , producing his best performance for Hitchin and Cirencester just could not handle him. He showed great pace and control throughout and just before half time made a telling run and cross that could have led to the equaliser. But McNamara was not to be denied and on 52 minutes produced a quite brilliant lob from 30 yards after again using his pace to great effect.
Unfortunately just four minutes after the goal there was the game's moment of controversy. Parsons and McNamara clashed and a melee resulted. Parsons seemed the instigator and having already received a yellow card it seemed he would be dismissed but somehow referee Adam Matthews red carded  Donnelly whose only involvement in the incident had been that of peacemaker as he pulled McNamara away from the melee! Donnelly is well known to be a feisty character but here  he was innocent and now unjustly faces a four game ban so soon after his brave return to the side after his heart problems.
The sending off seemed to infuse even more determination in to the Canaries and the very impressive Lucas Kirkpatrick had a shot saved. Brett Donnelly replaced Martin after 71 minutes and took just two minutes to put Hitchin ahead. He kept his composure to score from close range after intercepting a back pass.
The game then swung again when Alasan Ann unluckily deflected a shot past Horlock after 76 minutes. Lewis Rolfe had to be replaced by Harry O'Malley and it appeared Cirencester had the impetus. But this Hitchin team has tremendous character and tenacity and won the game in the 84th minute after another superb finish from McNamara where he gave keeper Glyn Garner no chance with a sublime finish, leading to assistant manager Adam Parker calling him the ginger Pele!
So another hard earned three points at a difficult away ground but January is a very tough month and Hitchin will need to maintain their current form to meet the challenges ahead.
One final point that needs to be made is that Cirencester possess a typical modern stadium but like so many it a very soulless place. As a warning for the future of Hitchin it is an out of town stadium and because of being away from the town only one attendance has topped 200. The fear has to be the proposed Stevenage Road site the Cow Commoners want Hitchin to move to would be a similar white elephant stadium with hardly any fans--- Top Field may have its faults but it remains a real football ground.
Horlock, Rolfe, Walster, Ann, Webb, Barker McNamasra  Lench, Martin C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick  Subs B Donnelly for Martin 71, Peacock, Noone for Lench 46, O'Malley for Rolfe 83. Williams
Garner, Herring, Pitts, Pritchett, Jones, Henry, Liddiard, Mortimer-Jones, Parsons, Bennett,Williams  Subs  Jarvis forParsons,67, Hooper for Henry 50, Davidge, Wells
Sending off
Hitchin  C Donnelly
Hitchin  None
Cirencester  Parsons
Attendance 137 
Roy Izzard

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