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Hitchin Town 4 Peterborough Sports 2 (aet)

Monday, September 14 2015

Goals in the second half of extra time by Jonny McNamara and Kane Smith saw 10 man Hitchin finally negotiate this epic FA Cup First Qualifying Round replay.

 

The Canaries made one change from Saturday’s original encounter, with Kirkpatrick dropping to the bench, Wright joining the back three and Rolfe sitting in midfield.

 

The game started at a lively pace with Hitchin trying to stamp their authority. McShane had to make an early save from Donnelly and McNamara shot just wide. At the other end, The Turbines also posed a threat and Webb had to get in a timely intervention to stop Viera profiting from a Graham through ball.

 

The visitors suffered an early blow when Cobb had to be replaced by Gibbs but this did not knock them out of their stride and both Webb and Wright had to make important clearances.

 

However the Peterborough pressure told on 15 minutes with a goal to grace any stage of the FA Cup. From almost nothing, Macleod unleashed a ferocious shot from 30 yards across the face of Horlock into the far corner of the net.

 

Hitchin might have had the stuffing knocked out of them with such a strike but instead searched gamely for an equaliser. Burns struck a freekick over the bar after Smith had been brought down, McShane made a good diving save from McNamara, and Lench came close after being found by Dan Webb.

 

However the equaliser did arrive on 24 minutes. Lench put a low ball in from the left, and Burns scrambled the ball home at the back post after it had run free in the area.

 

Both keepers continued to be called into action with Horlock making a great save from a Graham header after a Viera cross, and McShane saving a curling shot from Lench. The Hitchin number 11 almost repeated the effort minutes later but shot just past the post.

 

It was the Turbines, however, who regained the lead when a long cross into the Hitchin box saw Viera go up with Horlock. The keeper seemed to spill the ball and the ex-Corby striker stabbed the ball home on 38 minutes. Hitchin fans looked for a flag but the goal was given.

 

At this point a cup upset looked on the cards as Peterborough looked well organised and capable of snuffing out Hitchin’s threat. However the Canaries mustered one further attack in an exhilarating first half – Kane Smith’s persistence winning a corner. The first ball was cleared but it fell to Kane on the edge of the area. His low shot found the net on 44 minutes, although Robbie Burns claimed to have got the final touch to the ball.

 

HALF TIME Hitchin Town 2 Peterborough Sports 2

 

The early stages of the second half were decidedly scrappy – as though both sides were exhausted after the first half – with Hitchin moves breaking down against a determined Turbines defence.

 

Hitchin made a switch on 57 minutes with Kirkpatrick coming on for Ann, with Rolfe dropping deeper and Dan Webb taking the armband to leave two Webbs in charge on the field.

 

The change seemed to encourage the Canaries with the visitors just clearing a Hitchin corner created by Kirkpatrick and Lench, while the latter also had a shot deflected for another corner. MacNamara was also starting to impose himself on the game as he fashioned a couple of half chances.  However the next big chance fell to Donnelly. He advanced on goal and unleashed a fierce shot which struck the crossbar. The ball bounced down and looked to have crossed the goal line. However the officials ruled that it had not completely gone over and no goal was given.

 

To add to Hitchin’s frustration, they were reduced to ten men soon afterwards. Viera again took on the defence and was left one on one with Will Wright. Wright put out an arm to stop the striker and the ref had no doubts about issuing a red card.

 

However equally importantly, the dangerous Macleod had to go off for Peterborough Sports and ten-man Hitchin had the best chances as normal time ran down. McNamara found space in the box but tried to place his shot and hit the outside of the post, while Donnelly went down in the box but did not win a penalty and then could only head wide from a corner.

 

FULL TIME Hitchin Town 2 Peterborough Sports 2

 

The Turbines best chance in extra time came early on as Horlock pulled off a fine double save from Gibbs and then Viera. However the ten men of Hitchin were making better use of the ball in this period against opponents who could not make their extra man count and looked to be tiring.

 

McNamara was having more joy as he ran at the defence, and also headed just wide from a good Bickerstaff cross. From a Kirkpatrick corner, Burns threw himself in at the near post but headed just wide.

 

As the first period of extra time ended, Callum Donnelly picked up a knock and David Corran replaced him, forcing another reshuffle but in the final period of the game, Hitchin finally got some reward for the efforts.

 

McNamara had gone close on two previous occasions but on 108 minutes, he hit a curling shot that managed to evade McShane’s left hand to put Hitchin in the lead for the first time on the evening.

 

With the game being stretched and Hitchin’s defence holding firm, the Canaries finally wrapped the game up on 117 minutes with a break that saw Kane Smith run onto the ball, cut past the keeper and slot home. Burns nearly added insult to injury with one final chance but that would have been harsh on the visitors.

 

When the referee blew for the end of extra time, Hitchin knew they had been in a fight and the Turbines’ players looked shattered.  However, they had all played their part in a great advert for the FA Cup.

 

The reward for the win is a trip to Suffolk to play Kirkley & Pakefield in just under a fortnight. Meanwhile if Peterborough Sports can reproduce their form from these two matches in the league, they will surely be promotion candidates.

 

FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 4 Peterborough Sports 2 (after extra time)

 

Teams

Hitchin - Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Ann (cap), Webb, Wright, McNamara, Callum Donnelly, Rolfe, Burns, Lench

Subs – Kirkpatrick (for Ann), Johnson, Corran (for Callum Donnelly), Payne, Brett Donnelly

Peterborough Sports - McShane, Medweynter, Bloodworth, Sanders, Cox, Webb (cap), Nyang, Graham, Viera, Macleod, Cobb

Subs - Brown, Sansby (for Bloodworth), Gibbs (for Cobb), Makate, Cook (for Macleod)

 

Att 198

 

Colin



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