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Paulton Rovers 2 Hitchin Town 1

Sunday, January 31 2016

Manager Mark Burke admitted he was frustrated after Hitchin suffered a third consecutive league defeat at Paulton.  He felt Hitchin had been very comfortable in the first half and were in control with their 1-0 lead but the game turned in two minutes in the second half.

Burke’s frustration was caused by referee awarding a free kick against Josh Bickerstaff for what he felt was a fair challenge in the 66th minute and to add salt to the wound Leon Jeanne scored with a brilliant delivery in to the top left hand corner of Charlie Horlock’s goal.

Just two minutes later with Hitchin not properly organised a Steve Williams pass was chested by Mari Mateus  in to the path of Kelvin Douglas who finished smartly and from a comfortable position Hitchin were suddenly facing an uphill battle. Paulton’s league position may be precarious but they are on a good run and this was their seventh game without defeat and they are a different proposition to earlier in the season.

After heavy overnight rain the Paulton ground staff had achieved something of a miracle to get the game on but the heavy conditions made it virtually impossible for Hitchin to play their normal passing game. Players struggled to keep their balance and the ball really had to be dug out when clearances were made.

Hitchin made one enforced change from last Saturday with Lewis Rolfe suspended and Brett Donnelly coming in up front with  Robbie Burns dropping back to midfield. The early stages saw both sides coming to terms with the conditions but Hitchin came close in the ninth minute when Dan Webb headed on a Ben Walster free kick and Ali Ann’s shot was blocked for a corner. Lucas Kirkpatrick shot wide before Horlock made a fine save from Dave O’Hare.

Jeanne was booked for a foul on Jonny McNamara who was always a threat. Webb blocked a shot from O’Hare before Hitchin took the lead in the 44th minute. A fine run and cross from McNamara was turned in at the near post by Brett Donnelly and Hitchin went in at half time well pleased with their efforts.

Before the two minutes of madness Callum Donnelly shot over the bar and McNamara had another good run. But after falling behind Hitchin were not as threatening although Ann forced a brilliant save from Ben John with a well struck shot after 77 minutes. To add to Hitchin’s frustration the referee seemed to play only a fraction of the added on time that should have been allowed.

This is now a real test of Hitchin’s character as they have not suffered a losing spell before in the league this season and the loss of Sam Barker and Matt Lench has proved to be a real blow. But there is no reason for negativity as the play off places are still very achievable and all sides have a blip at some stage. Hitchin now need to return to winning ways against Histon next week.

Teams

Hitchin  Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Walster, McNamara, C Donnelly, B Donnelly, Burns, Kirkpatrick  Subs Wright, Johnson, Pearson, Palmiero, Barnes for Bickerstaff 89

Paulton  John, Williams, Brown, Grimshaw, Ford, O’Hare, Jeanne, Mullings, Douglas, Ricketts, Chandler  Subs Wheatley for Douglas 79, Mateus for Chandler 46 , Allward for O’Hare 84, Read, Hannah

Bookings  

Hitchin none
Paulton  Jeanne

Attendance 189

Roy Izzard (photo by Peter Else)




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