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Hitchin Town 2 Paulton Rovers 0

Monday, December 7 2015

Two second half goals for The Canaries finally broke down a Paulton side scrapping for survival and ensured the four point haul that Mark Burke had demanded from the weekend.

For the third time, Paulton encountered traffic difficulties in their journey to Top Field and the game kicked off fifteen minutes late. While their satnav skills may require improving, this also stokes the endless argument about midweek fixtures involving lengthy journeys; the visitors were missing players who could not make the midweek journey due to work commitments and the same problem has faced Hitchin.

Hitchin's only change from Saturday was that Brett Donnelly replaced Robbie Burns up front.

Whether it was the fifteen minute delay or the short recovery time after Saturday's matches, the first half was not one to remember for long. Paulton defended in depth and tried to attack on the break, while Hitchin's passing was not at its most fluent.

Early Hitchin opportunities fell to Kirkpatrick but he got underneath a header, Lench had a shot blocked after being set up through a strong run by Alasan Ann, while Sam Barker shot over the bar at the second attempt having miskicked his first effort.

At the other end, Morgan-Williams was allowed to run to the edge of the box but Horlock was able to gather his shot. Brown also delivered a ferocious free kick but blazed it over the bar. As the half time whistle approached, Morgan-Williams made one final run into the area and tumbled over but the referee turned aside the half-hearted appeals.

Half time - Hitchin Town 0 Paulton Rovers 0 

Hitchin had to make a substitution at half time, as Ben Walster had come out worse in a heavy tackle just before the break, and it was substitute Kane Smith who created the opening goal on 51 minutes.

Following a corner, the ball was cleared to the substitute. Smith's swerving shot from outside the area was tipped onto the bar by keeper John. The ball bounced down and Brett Donnelly reached it ahead of the keeper to tap home.

Hitchin survived a couple of free kick scares as Paulton tried to get back into the game - one from Tooze curling narrowly over the angle of post and bar.

However a second goal for The Canaries arrived ten minutes after the first and it was simple and effective. McNamara sent in a perfect cross which cleared the players at the near post to find Alasan Ann in space at the back. His downward header gave the keeper no chance.

The referee seemed keen to dispense yellow cards for Hitchin offences while lecturing the visitors. However Hitchin did well not to get dragged into a scrap and tried to add to their goal tally. Donnelly looked to have scored his second after chesting down a cross from McNamara but the ball was cleared off the line by a Paulton defender.  Alasan Ann also glanced a header just wide from a corner and shot tamely at John.

Paulton though were running out of ideas and their last chance came from a second thunderbolt freekick from Brown - this one being fired wide.

Donnelly had one further chance to add to the scoreline when he got on the end of a freekick to fire home. Unfortunately the goal was disallowed for a handball, while McNamara then fired a snapshot just over the bar before being substituted, having earlier required treatment after being bundled over in the area. However the win was safely secured and was merited for an improved second half performance and keeping a clean sheet.

Hitchin now have the best part of a week before they look to put right their poor record at Bideford on Saturday.

Full Time -  Hitchin Town 2 Paulton Rovers 0 


Hitchin - Horlock, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Ann (Cap), Webb, Walster, McNamara, Lench, Kirkpatrick, Brett Donnelly, Barker
Subs - Smith (for Walster), Burns, Brooks (for McNamara), Callum Donnelly, Martin
Paulton - John (Cap), Williams, Brown, Allward, Ford, O'Hare, Wheatley, Grimshaw, Morgan-Williams, Ricketts, Tooze
Subs - Douglas (for Wheatley), Allan, Hinder

Hitchin - Ann, Lench, Donnelly

MOTM - Alasan Ann



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