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Hitchin Town 2 Leamington 2

Monday, October 5 2015

Hitchin and Leamington fought out a thrilling draw at Top Field in a memorable game that produced a riveting spectacle for the 311 crowd. Hitchin fought back from a two goal half time deficit and could easily have gone on to win a high class game that was again a credit to the Southern League.

 

Team news saw the much anticipated return of Hitchin legend John Frendo. This led to a change of formation to 4-2-1-3 with Kane Smith and Lewis Rolfe as full backs alongside Dan Webb and Alasan Ann, with Callum Donnelly and Lucas Kirkpatrick the holding midfielders and Matt Lench in the hole behind Robbie Burns on the left and Jonny McNamara on the right with Frendo the central striker.

 

Frendo nearly made a sensational start as he forced a good save from Tony Breeden  after good work by Smith in the second minute. Then Donnelly hit the post after a Frendo cross before he had a goal disallowed for offside after a thunderous header from a clever Ann cross. But Leamington came close when the dangerous Ben Mackey shot across goal and the same player gave them the lead with a good header from a left wing cross after 21 minutes.

 

Hitchin continued to create chances and Ann hooked a shot over the bar after a corner while Frendo hit a free kick too tamely. Hitchin were playing their attractive brand of passing football but suffered a sucker blow when the unmarked Joe Edwards scored a second for Leamington with another header from a left wing cross with 31 minutes on the clock. This left Hitchin with a mountain to climb but a Webb header after a Donnelly corner was flicked just over the bar by Frendo as Hitchin continued to push forward.

Half time Hitchin Town 0 Leamington 2

 

The second half saw Hitchin very much on the front foot with Webb coming close after 47 minutes. Joe Magunda and Mackey were booked after a foul on Donnelly as Hitchin sought a way back. Almost inevitably it was that man Frendo who made the breakthrough after 52 minutes with a trademark left foot finish after a scramble in the penalty area. It was as if he had never been away and all night he proved a real threat to the well organised Leamington defence.

 

Matt Lench was rather too casual with a shot after good work by Frendo and McNamara before McNamara had what seemed a legitimate claim for a penalty turned down after he appeared to be brought down. The referee Mr Russell made a number of decisions that frustrated the home supporters and booked both Rolfe and Donnelly.

 

Sam Barker replaced Kirkpatrick as Hitchin really dominated the game. The deserved equaliser came in the 75th minute and it was an excellent finish from Robbie Burns. It seemed an unlikely winner would come as Barker forced a good save while Lench had a shot blocked. But credit to Leamington who clawed their way back in to the game and got on top for the last part of the game. Ben Walster replaced Frendo and James Mace missed a good chance before Charlie Horlock made a brilliant save from Connor Gudger deep in to injury time to keep the scores level.

 

Leamington looked a very good side and it says so much for the character of this Hitchin team that they pulled back a two goal deficit and played such vibrant football. Crowds must increase if Hitchin can continue to play in this vein for the rest of the season and the entertainment value was impressive. There were visitors from Norway and Israel present at the game and they were certainly shown English non-league football at its best.

Full time Hitchin Town 2 Leamington 2

Teams

Hitchin - Horlock, Smith, Rolfe, Ann, Webb, Kirkpatrick, Donnelly, Frendo, Burns, Lench 

Subs - Barker for Kirkpatrick 62, Johnson, Walster for Frendo 88, Martin, Corran

 

Leamington - Breeden, George, Gudger, Magunda, Hood, Mace, Moore, Taundry, Mackey, Edwards, Chilton

Subs - Green for Mackey 71, Oulton for Taundry 71,Ogleby, Fry for Magunda 82, Caviezel-Cox

 

Bookings

Hitchin - Donnelly and Rolfe

Leamington - Magunda, Mackey and Hood

 

Attendance 311

 

Roy Izzard



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