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Hitchin Town 1 Frome Town 2

Saturday, January 16 2016

A late winner for Frome Town saw the Canaries' unbeaten league run come to an end in an eventful afternoon at Top Field. 
The afternoon saw the launch of the club's Floodlight Fund with a "Pay What You Want" initiative that saw a league best crowd of 572 brave the cold weather. They also saw an incident packed game against an opposition who were battling to get away from the relegation zone but who have a good record in previous encounters in Hitchin.  
Hitchin's line up reflected the unavailability, for a variety of reasons, of Dan Webb, Brett Donnelly, Matt Lench and Sam Barker. Ben Walster lined up in defence while Simon Martin played as target man. 
The early stages of the first half were even as the dangerous Davies shot just over for the visitors, while Hitchin saw a header from a McNamara cross go over, and a well taken shot from Lucas Kirkpatrick flash just past the post. 
Hitchin may have thought the tide had turned decisively in their favour just after the midway point in the half. McNamara lost the ball to Hobbs and fouled the defender. However Hobbs then retaliated and referee Mr Maskell awarded a straight red card.  
Roberts was booked minutes later for a foul on Kirkpatrick, who had beaten him for pace. From Walster's resulting freekick, Alasan Ann headed straight into the arms of keeper Chitty. 
Hitchin's numerical advantage though did not result in goals as Frome dug deep to keep them out. They also had the occasional chance themselves, with Fitzgibbon firing low across the face of Horlock's goal. 
Frome's defending saw Chitty save from Kirkpatrick and also a scrambled clearance from their area when the ball fell in turn to Ann, Martin and McNamara who were all unable to get clear efforts in on goal! 
In the 43rd minute, Hitchin were punished for a foul by Lewis Rolfe – who was yellow carded - on their left flank. Davies' flighted free kick was met by the head of Page, who was not under great pressure, and he glanced home the opening goal. 
The lead didn't last long, though, as two minutes later a Kane Smith cross was nodded back by Martin at the far past for McNamara to convert! There was almost time for another goal before half time as crisp passing by Ann and Donnelly found McNamara running into space. However his shot was just wide. 
Half time - Hitchin Town 1 Frome Town 1 
The second half began evenly, as in the first half. A dipping free kick from Davies just cleared the bar, while a low shot by Burns was saved by Chitty. 
However on 58 minutes not only the scores but also the numbers were level. Frome broke into the Hitchin half and Rolfe brought down the attacker to receive a second yellow card. 
For a while Hitchin lost their shape and their fluidity although Man of the Match McNamara still threatened. Chitty had to parry one cross from the winger and the goalkeeper then brought off a fingertip save from a fierce volley. A dangerous cross from Smith was also just too high for Donnelly to connect with at the back post. 
At the other end, Walster also landed in the referee's book as the game became scrappy, and Davies landed an effort on the roof of Horlock's net. 
However in the final ten minutes, the Canaries were handed a golden chance to clinch the points. McNamara was upended as he ran into the Frome box, and the referee pointed straight to the spot. In the absence of Rolfe, Burns took over penalty-taking duties but he opted for placement rather than power and Chitty got down to his left to save the kick. 
On 90 minutes, Hitchin were made to pay for the miss. A Frome corner was cleared as far as Miller just outside the area. He fired in a shot from some 25 yards to regain the lead for the visitors. 
Hitchin had a last chance to share the spoils, but Ann's header from a corner hit the crossbar just before the referee blew for full time. 
Hitchin's unbeaten league run, that stretched back to October, was over and they dropped to fourth in the table behind Redditch on goal difference (as The Reds plundered eight against Bedworth!). They now need to draw upon all of the squad to regain momentum as the fixtures start to come thick and fast. 
Final score - Hitchin Town 1 Frome Town 2 
Hitchin Town - Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Ann, Walster, Rolfe, McNamara, Donnelly, Martin, Burns, Kirkpatrick 
Subs - Brooks, Wright (for Martin), Pearson, Palmeiro, Barnes 
Frome Town - Chitty, Miller, Teale, Hobbs, Roberts, Mapstone, Davies, Miller, Page, Jeffries, Fitzgibbon 
Subs - Monelle (for Davies), Hulbert (for Fitzgibbon), Nkunga, Jeffries 
Hitchin Town  
Red – Rolfe; yellow – Rolfe, Walster 
Frome Town 
Red – Hobbs; yellow - Roberts 
Hitchin Town Man of the Match – Jonny McNamara 
Attendance – 572 

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