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Leamington 0 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, February 13 2016

A third consecutive victory underlined the fact that Hitchin have now rediscovered the form they were showing before their recent blip. This was a well deserved win at a ground where Hitchin had not previously fared well and it was a real team performance with all the players displaying the work ethic that has been a feature of their season. Every ball was contested and the sheer will to †win was evident throughout.

The back four were rock solid while Charlie Horlock handled impeccably throughout. The midfield could not have worked harder while Brett Donnelly had a fascinating tussle with Leamingtonís centre back throughout with no quarter asked or given. Mark Burke selected the same starting eleven from the St Albans game with new signing Mason Spence among the substitutes.

The pitch was in excellent condition but Hitchin played against a strong wind in the first half. Hitchin made a good start with some attractive football as the renewed confidence from the Histon and St Albans games was apparent. Horlock was smartly off his line to clear a dangerous through ball after 8 minutes but two minutes later Hitchin were ahead thanks to a brilliant individual goal from Callum Donnelly, He saw the keeper Tony Breedon was off his line and produced an audacious chip from some 35 yards that nestled perfectly in the net with Breedon a mere spectator. It was similar to Matt Lenchís goal at Weymouth but was possibly even better.

Breedon was to say the least eccentric in his performance. He spent so much time out of his area he seemed to be a frustrated outfield player and at one stage launched an attack from inside Hitchinís half of the pitch! Hitchin coped very well with the succession of high balls Breedon unleashed and Horlock did not have a direct save to make in the first half but he handled difficult high balls really well.

Richard Taundry and Sam Austin shot wide for Leamington as did Jonny McNamara for Hitchin but the Canaries were full value for their half time lead.

The second half saw Leamington up their tempo and put Hitchin under pressure but again they were unable to have any dangerous shots on goal and it was Hitchin who created the better chances, Callum Donnelly had a good run but saw his shot blocked after 52 minutes and he then combined with brother Brett to create a chance that McNamara headed in to Breedonís arms.

An excellent move in the 83rd minute involving Robbie Burns and McNamara ended with a brilliant block by Ben George denying Callum Donnelly a second goal. In injury time McNamara broke out with only the keeper to beat but Breedon did well to thwart him, while at the other end Hitchin stood firm.

Dan Webb and Lewis Rolfe are looking a formidable central defensive partnership while Kane Smith was again at his best. Ben Walster has not always been a regular starter but had one of his best games for Hitchin and is improving all the time. The midfield five and Brett Donnelly were just full of running and throughout the team the familiar resilience was shown,

Burke said afterwards he considered this a massive three points and was pleased with the character the team showed at the start of a run of difficult fixtures that will define the season. But on this form Hitchin should not fear any opponent.
Teams

Hitchin †Horlock, Smith, Walster, Ann, Webb, Rolfe, McNamaea, C Donnelly, B Donnelly, Burns, Kirkpatrick †Subs †Pearson, Johnson, Spence, Palmiero, Barnes.

Leamington †Breedon, George, Gudger, Fry, Hood, Tank, Austin, Taundry, Mackey, Edwards, Chilton †Subs Mace, Baker-Richardson for Chilton 71, Magunda for Fry 71, Ogleby for Austin 83, Oulton.

Bookings

Hitchin Ann and B Donnelly

Leamington †none

Attendance 345

Roy Izzard, photo by Peter Else



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