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Hitchin Town 4 Dunstable Town 1

Monday, August 31 2015

Hitchin hit back against Dunstable

The pressure was on today for Hitchin Town following their 5-1 defeat to Merthyr on Saturday.  Mark Burke made several changes to his line-up against Dunstable, which included a return to the side for much-missed Josh Bickerstaff.  And his presence alongside captain Alasan Ann made all the difference.

Home fans at Top Field will tell you their captain likes to come forward from time to time, and this familiar trait was the reason for how The Canaries took the lead, this drizzly bank holiday afternoon.  Ann strode into his opposition's half and played a peach of a pass to the right to Kane Smith, who had galloped up the line in anticipation.  And his impulse served him well for the pass found him exquisitely, which the crowd didn't leave unnoticed from their sharp intake of breath.  It wasn't long before these inhaled prayers were answered, as Smith crossed hard and low for Robbie Burns, who repaid his manager for selecting him to start today's match by opening the score in the 11th minute.  It was the best possible start Hitchin could have hoped for. 

It took less than a minute from the restart for Hitchin to go on the attack again, and boy did they go close.  Jonny McNamara worked his magic up the line before lifting in a beautifully weighted cross to midfielder Callum Donnelly.  Sadly, Donnelly couldn't capitalise and saw his header saved by the relieved Dunstable keeper, Paul Bastock, who seemed to be losing his voice with only a quarter of an hour gone.  Poor Bastock had more to shout about 5 minutes later, when a long ball from Lewis Rolfe beat Dunstable's defence and saw Lucas Kirkpatrick clean through on goal.  With only the keeper to beat, Hitchin's number 9 rounded the keeper and passed the ball home, doubling his side's tally to 2-0.

It was one way traffic from then on and the visitors were a sorry sight.  If they weren't blaming the weather, they were blaming each other.  The home side seized their vulnerability and almost wrapped things up before  half-time when McNamara went close.  His shot was fired narrowly wide after a patient build-up of passes.  Hitchin went in to the break with confidence, a major contrast to their opponents who looked bluer than their shirts.

HALF TIME: Hitchin Town 2-0 Dunstable Town

Manager Tony Fontenelle rightly switched things around at half-time, however it seemed bizarre replacing Mason Spence, who was the only chink of light in Dunstable's limp performance in the first half.  Nevertheless Fontenelle's men were the first out the dressing room and were the first to attack.  Substitutes Gregory Ngoyi and David Keenleyside linking up straight away, sending a cross just too long for Gary Wharton.  Whatever had been said at half-time seemed to have worked:  'Seemed' being the operative word...

With 55 minutes on the clock, you'll forgive me for saying the game looked like it was over, for the score took another turn for the worst for Dunstable.  Kane Smith was the man involved again, this time being the scorer.  The ingredients to this goal were simple: persistence and determination and both were exemplified by  none other than the wizard himself, Jonny McNamara.  When the attack seemed to have died, McNamara rekindled things when he somehow kept the ball in play inside Dunstable's box.  His cross was too high for Burns, but perfect for Smith, who lashed home Hitchin's third, delighting the home faithful.  The hill The Blues were climbing, had just become a lot steeper. 

Wharton did salvage something for the away side just beyond the hour-mark; beating Charlie Horlock at his near post with a shot that was low and hard.  However this proved to be a mere consolation on a day that belonged to The Canaries, who had more to chirp about with 20 minutes left, when Paul Bastock was shown a straight red after fouling Robbie Burns.  Despite the referee's decision to send the keeper off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, it would seem Burns would have preferred to have had the advantage, for he quickly regained his balance in front of an empty goal.  Thankfully, this slightly controversial decision didn't bear any dividends on the game.   It did, however for Dunstable who had used all of their substitutes before this moment.  The goalkeeping duties were assigned to David Keenleyside who I'm sure, was not as keen as his surname suggested.

Dunstable's misery was settled in stoppage time by substitute Matt Lench, who rightly illustrated Hitchin's dominance by making it 4-1.  Today was a test for Hitchin after their loss on the weekend, however they swept the challenge aside with ease and move on with momentum going into their next fixture, away to Frome.  

FULL TIME: Hitchin Town 4-1 Dunstable Town

HITCHIN: Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Ann (c), Rolfe, Pearson (Wright '84), McNamara (Lench '78), Donnelly, Kirkpatrick, Burns, Barker; subs not used: Martin, Corran, Boyd

DUNSTABLE: Bastock (Red Card), Leslie (Plowright '72), Pennell, Talbot, Kaloczi, Blackett, Watkins, Spence (Keenleyside '45), Wharton, Smith (Ngoyi '45), Marsh; subs not used: Ferrari, Fontenelle

Attendance: 360

Man of the Match: Kane Smith

Written by Sean Fitzgerald



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