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Hitchin Town 2 Hungerford Town 1

Saturday, February 20 2016

Hitchin Town secured a home victory against Hungerford at the third time of asking and consolidated fourth place in the table. The game hinged on two well taken set-piece goals and some resilient second half defending by the Canaries. 
 
In the continuing absence of Robbie Burns, Mark Burke gave Mason Spence his first start, while the bench also contained new arrival Justin Leavers. 
 
In blustery conditions which favoured Hitchin in the first half, and a wet pitch that didn't favour defenders, Callum Donnelly forced visiting keeper Paul Strudley to rush out and clear the danger while a Clark free-kick at the other end did not breach the Hitchin defensive wall. 
 
However Hitchin demonstrated exactly how to execute a free-kick on 11 minutes after Kirkpatrick was brought down. Kane Smith sent in a high delivery that was met perfectly at the far post by Dan Webb rising above a static defence and heading across the keeper. 
 
Hitchin took every chance to run at the Hungerford defence. McNamara forced Strudley into a fine tip over the bar, after John had failed to cut out a pass and the number seven had exchanged passes with Spence. 
 
John didn't play much further part in the game, necessitating a reshuffle of the Hungerford defence, with Jones slotting into midfield and narrowly heading wide with his first touch. 
 
McNamara forced another save from Strudley after being put through by Kirkpatrick. However the midfielder was soon to be involved in Hitchin's second goal. 
 
On 31 minutes, Kirkpatrick's low freekick from Hitchin's left, was met at the near post by Brett Donnelly who turned the ball home to double the lead. 
 
Hitchin continued to push forward before the interval, with Kane Smith having a shot deflected. At the other end Hungerford were resorting to long throws but without success and, as the whistle blew, Hitchin went in with a deserved lead. 
 
HALF TIME Hitchin Town 2 Hungerford Town 0 
 
Whatever visiting manager Bobby Wilkinson said at half time had an effect as the Crusaders pulled a goal back within five minutes of the restart. A shot from substitute Jones took a sharp deflection from Preen to beat Horlock.  
 
Canaries fans may have been worried that the match had changed course but, although Hungerford put Hitchin under pressure, the home side were still carving out the better chances while playing more on the break. 
 
Spence, who linked up well in his first full game, just fired wide after a good build-up by Callum and Brett Donnelly, while the Hitchin skipper was thwarted by Strudley after a positive run. The Hungerford keeper was also forced into a save from McNamara after a great run by Spence from his own half.  
 
At the other end, Horlock was not set as many questions by the Hungerford attack but dealt with the crosses and dead balls that were sent in. Day mishit one good chance and, on the one occasion Horlock was beaten, Dan Webb was on the line to clear away an effort from Boardman. 
 
Hitchin could have further extended their lead as Callum Donnelly stumbled, regained his balance and shot on the turn but again Strudley saved. Donnelly then fired a curling effort wide of the post and Spence cut inside before firing over.  
 
As the clock ran down, Hitchin kept the ball in the opposition half while playing out time. When the final whistle came, it rewarded the Canaries for a professional display in which they stuck to their guns even after the visitors' goal after the break.  
 
With Poole's match postponed and Chippenham losing to Frome, the top of the table is now getting tighter as the Canaries prepare to visit the table-topping Dolphins on Tuesday evening.  
FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 2 Hungerford Town 1 
 
Teams 
Hitchin - Horlock, Smith, Walster, Ann, Webb, Rolfe, McNamara, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly, Spence, Kirkpatrick 
Subs - Pearson, Johnson, Barnes, Leavers, Martin 
Hungerford - Strudley, Taylor, John, Boardman, Day, Rusby, Clark, Rees, Jarvis, Brown, Preen 
Subs - Goodger (for Jarvis), O'Brien (for Clark), Draycott, Jones (for John), Herring 
 
Yellow cards 
Hitchin
- Kirkpatrick 
Hungerford – Rees, Day, Taylor 
 
Attendance - 431 
 
Man of the Match - Mason Spence 
 
Colin 



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