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Kirkley & Pakefield 0 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, September 26 2015

Hitchin Town made sure there was no FA Cup upset against Kirkley and Pakefield - from the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League - with a goal in each half.

Hitchin went into the match without Josh Bickerstaff, who had picked up a midweek knock, but Alasan Ann returned to the centre of the defence. 

The hosts started brightly with Baker and Lopez catching the eye at the centre of their build-up. Horlock was relieved to see a dipping ball from Gilfedder land on the roof of his net.

However Hitchin’s attacking play looked more threatening and, after early chances for Burns and Ann, any Canary nerves were calmed on 14 minutes. After his initial corner had been cleared, Callum Donnelly returned a low ball back into the box which was turned home at the near post by Matt Lench.

Hitchin were the better side during the rest of the first half. Kirkpatrick headed wide from a Smith cross, while Burns fired across goal, and a great move from Lench, Donnelly and McNamara saw the number 7 shooting just wide. Tibbles was also the busier keeper in this period while Horlock was not troubled by a shot from Flower.

Half time - Kirkley and Pakefield 0 Hitchin Town 1

The Canaries had a good chance at the start of the second half as Smith and McNamara attacked down the right, and the latters cross was fired over by Kirkpatrick.

However in the next period, Kirkley and Pakefield threw themselves into the search for an equaliser while Hitchin's passing wasn't as crisp as it had been before the interval. Horlock had to be alert to keep out a lofted shot from Brown that nearly crept in at the far post. Tacon shot wide, and Brown fired over when well placed following a good run by 

Hitchin did finally make the game safe on 73 minutes when Kirkpatrick set Kane Smith on a powerful run and his low cross from the right was turned in by Burns in a crowded goal mouth.

From that point Hitchin were able to keep their opponents at arms length and run the game down. They ended on the front foot a Lench cross just being cleared before substitute Simon Martin could connect.

It was an efficient performance against an industrious side, and it's to the Canaries' credit that they are not making the Cup headlines for the wrong reason. Kirkley and Pakefield will console themselves with the knowledge that they equalled their best ever FA Cup run and won new friends for their off-field hospitality. Hitchin await the draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round on Monday. 

Full time - Kirkley and Pakefield 0 Hitchin Town 2

Kirkley & Pakefield - Tibbles, Grint, George, Tacon, Herbert (cap), Flower, Haverson, Lopez, Gilfedder, Baker, M Brown
Subs - Edwards-King (for Baker), Smith (for Tacon), Brooks (for Lopez), G Brown, Reynolds

Hitchin Town - Horlock, Smith, Corran, Ann (cap), Webb, Rolfe, McNamara,  C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick, Burns, Lench
Subs - Martin (for McNamara), Johnson, Walster (for Kirkpatrick), Wright (for Corran), Boyd, B Donnelly, Bickerstaff

Attendance 217

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