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Hitchin Town 3 Burgess Hill Town 2

Saturday, October 31 2015

Hitchin Town ensured there was no Halloween scare in the FA Trophy as they won after coming back from a goal down for the third game running. An 89th minute winner was swept in by Callum Donnelly to wrap up a revival that seemed unlikely at half time.

Hitchin went into the game without Alasan Ann and with McNamara and Lench on the bench.

The Canaries showed well in the early exchanges, with Burns getting a faint header to a corner won by good work from Kane Smith and Callum Donnelly. However no-one was able to get a second touch to turn his glance in.

Burgess Hill worked their way into the game and looked dangerous going forward with Lee Harding and Fisk having chances, while Horlock had to be alert to clear one low effort.  Their pressure saw The Hillians take the lead on 25 minutes as a long throw was flicked to the back post where Chris Smith converted.

Hitchin looked to get back into the game as a cross from Josh Bickerstaff saw Brett Donnelly and Miles challenge in the box. Both were booked but the referee gave a corner rather than any foul. From the setpiece, a looping Webb header was gathered under his crossbar by keeper Josh James. At the other end, Horlock was forced into a good save from a Keehan header.

Brett Donnelly was getting little change from the visitors’ defence but did get a flick-on into the path of Smith. The wingback’s cross was cleared by Doherty just before Kirkpatrick could make contact.

On the balance of the half, the visitors looked value for their lead as they were quick to close Hitchin down in numbers. Hitchin were also picking up cards with Pearson and Callum Donnelly joining Brett in the book.

Half time: Hitchin Town 0 Burgess Hill Town 1

The second half began with play moving from end to end as Lee Harding set up Smith for an acrobatic shot on the turn, although the flag was already up for offside.

Fisk was carded for bringing down Kane Smith in full flight for Hitchin and, after the free kick came to nothing, Smith did manage to get in a cross which Brett Donnelly just failed to make contact with at the far post.

The Canaries efforts to get back into the game did pay off with a lucky equaliser as Pearson turned a low cut-back from Robbie Burns past Josh James on 58 minutes. However parity was short-lived as Burgess Hill regained the lead on 65 minutes. A deep cross went over Bickerstaff to the waiting Pat Harding and he set up Chris Smith for his second goal of the game.

The visitors could have put the match beyond doubt as Kane Smith was dispossessed and the ball squared to Pat Harding. However Dan Webb got in an important block.

There were then chances at both ends as James came out to clear from Burns, who had robbed a defender but was not able to conjure a clean shot. A Chris Smith snapshot meanwhile forced Horlock into a save at the second attempt.

At this point Hitchin threw the dice with two substitutions – Boyd replacing Pearson and shortly afterwards McNamara coming on for Brett Donnelly.  The changes paid off in the 81st minute when Sam Barker pounced on a mistake by Luc Doherty and slipped the ball through to Jack Boyd on the left side of the penalty area. The substitute showed composure to take the ball on and slot calmly under James to open his account for the Canaries.

Hitchin went in search of the killer blow. Another Kane Smith cross was met by a stretching Robbie Burns but he could not control his header which flew over the goal. Then Boyd – who put in an encouraging cameo - and Bickerstaff freed McNamara whose cross went for a corner. James did well to claim the ball from that.

Just as the replay looked likely, Callum Donnelly – who had been a thorn in The Hillians’ side all match - scored the decisive goal. It saw the whole team rush to the bench to celebrate as they finally ended Hitchin's hoodoo in cup games against Ryman League sides.

Full time: Hitchin Town 3 Burgess Hill Town 2


Hitchin - Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb (c), Pearson, Kirkpatrick, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly, Burns, Barker

Subs - Lench, Johnson, Boyd (for Pearson), Wright, McNamara (for Brett Donnelly)

Burgess Hill - James, Doherty, Fisk, Budd (c), Pearson, Miles, Pearse, Keehan, Pat Harding, Smith, Lee Harding

Subs – Kirkwood (for Budd), Rowland, Saunders, Levy (for Lee Harding), Jonson (for Keehan)

Yellow cards:

Hitchin – Brett Donnelly, Pearson, Callum Donnelly

Burgess Hill – Miles, Fisk

MOTM: Callum Donnelly

Attendance: 190

Colin Ridgway


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