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Hitchin Town 2 Biggleswade Town 0

Monday, January 25 2016

Hitchin advanced into the quarter finals of the Red Insure Cup and a date with Cambridge City next Wednesday. The 2-0 win was ultimately comfortable and what was most pleasing was that it was a performance showing that there is depth to the squad, which will be needed as The Canaries look to advance on three fronts. 
Only three of Saturday's starting eleven were in the team that lined up before a decent Top Field crowd of 166, bolstered by a contingent from Bedfordshire. New arrivals Callum Riley and Dominic Palmiero made their debuts, while Charlie Payne also featured in the starting line-up. The Biggleswade team featured a great deal more experience, including a number of former Canaries. 
It was possibly no surprise that the early stages of the match saw Biggleswade have the upper hand as the experimental Canaries line-up settled into the match. 
Kim Forsythe made one good run through the home defence before Kane Smith was carded for bringing down Marsh. Johnson also pulled off a good save to stop a piledriver from Coulson. 
At the other end, Hitchin did have opportunities as Donnelly, captain for the evening, forced a good save from rookie keeper Dan Smith while Lewis Rolfe fired wide. 
However Rolfe would be influential as Hitchin took the lead on 22 minutes. His corner was played into the six yard box and Smith was only able to punch it into his own net. 
Forsythe had a couple of opportunities to level, first just failing to get on the end of a Biggleswade freekick, which Johnson gathered, and then going closer as he outran the Hitchin defence and chipped the keeper. However his effort cleared the bar and landed on top of the net.   
Riley forced a save from Smith with a strike from the edge of the area, while just before half time the winger also managed to get on the end of a Brooks cross and forced Iwediuno into a desperate clearance. 
HALF TIME Hitchin Town 1 Biggleswade Town 0 
While the first half had been even, with Allinson trying to create for Biggleswade and Hitchin's defence on occasion looking in danger of being exposed, the second half saw The Canaries take control. The inexperienced midfield, reinforced by Rolfe, passed the ball more confidently and ran well at the Biggleswade defence. At the back, Pearson and Wright were composed and snuffed out the visitor's attacks  
Donnelly got his head onto a cross from Riley but Dan Smith gathered it at the second attempt. The goalkeeper had more trouble dealing with a freekick from his namesake Kane but the home side were unable to get a touch to the ball.  
Forsythe did put the ball in the Hitchin net before he was substituted but the foul had already been given for a pull on Pearson's shirt. His replacement Merson did force Johnson to gather the ball at this feet but chances for The Waders were now at a premium. 
Both managers rang the changes, giving match time to the full number of substitutes as Hitchin piled on pressure. Palmiero in particular was becoming more influential, firing a free kick off target after he and Payne had tried to set up Simon Martin, and winning a corner after nutmegging a Waders defender. 
However the player on work experience from MK Dons looked like he had missed his chance to cap the game with a goal. After good build up to split the Biggleswade defence, Payne squared the ball across the area to the unmarked Palmiero but the midfielder put his shot wide. 
Kane Smith forced one final good save from Dan Smith with a freekick, while Martin – who had replaced Donnelly – had a couple of half chances created by the full back. 
In the last minute, though, Palmiero did get the goal he deserved. He was played in by Rolfe but still had work to do. He drew the keeper and rounded him before firing home calmly from a tight angle.  
FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 2 Biggleswade Town 0 
Hitchin - Johnson, Smith, Bickerstaff, Wright, Rolfe, Pearson, Riley, Brooks, Brett Donnelly (cap), Palmiero, Payne;  
Subs – Martin (for Donnelly), Barnes (for Brooks), Rice, Rennick, Mulholland (for Payne) 
Biggleswade - Smith, King, Coulson, Allinson, Iwediuno, Fortune, Northfield, Rees (cap), Forsythe, Marsh, Vincent;  
Subs - Merson (for Forsythe), Daniel (for Marsh), Tyrell (for Fortune) 
Yellow cards 
– Smith 
Attendance – 166 

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