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Hitchin Town 2 Stratford Town 3

Saturday, August 8 2015

Stratford run out 3-2 winners in opening day thriller at Top Field

Hitchin went into this game on the back of the defeat to Hemel Hempstead against a buoyant Stratford, who hadn't lost on the road in 5 games. Things didn't start well for Mark Burke's men either when Richard Gregory set Stratford on their way in the 13th minute, capitalising on a misplaced header. 

The pace of the game was fast and furious, however Stratford weathered the storm when Dior Angus headed home a tasty cross from Moses-Garvey, 9 minutes from the break. But hope was restored on the stroke of half-time by Simon Martin for the Canaries, who headed home.

Half time: Hitchin Town 1-2 Stratford Town

Hitchin picked up from where they left off in the second-half and levelled in the 53rd minute from an unlikely source. Defender Josh Bickerstaff left the keeper clutching at thin air, firing a deflected half volley into the net. The joy was short lived for the home side though, after Joe Halsall poached the game's winner below the hour. And 3-2 to the visitors was how it stayed, which was cruel on the home side, for they deserved something from the game.

Hitchin pushed for the equaliser, but it just never came. However it looked as though their luck was in just 3 minutes after they'd conceded when the referee seemed to point to the spot following Adam Kemp's collision with Matt Lench, mistaking him for the ball. After a long discussion with his linesman, the referee overturned expectation and awarded Stratford a fortuitous goal-kick, leaving the crowd with a mixture of confusion and rage. 

Fate appeared to be toying with the Canaries, for no matter what they did, they couldn't seem to find that all important third goal. Not even when Lucas Kirkpatrick side-footed a fine volley past Stratford's keeper, only to be denied by the flag of the linesman. It was to be one of those days. 

Stratford Town's Aaron Stringfellow was sent off with 3 minutes to go for dangerous play, but by then the damage had already been done; it was to be the visitors to take home the 3 points on the opening day of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier.

Full time: Hitchin Town 2-3 Stratford Town

Hitchin Town: Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, Ann (c), Webb, Rolfe, McNamara, Donnelly, Martin, Kirkpatrick, Lench

Subs: Burns (for McNamara), Johnson (GK), Corran, Wright (for Martin), Payne

Stratford Town: Kemp, Moran (c), Stringfellow, Simpson, Francis, Hadland, Moses-Garvey, Halsall, Angus, Gregory, Thompson-Brown

Subs: Price, Sheldon, Delfouneso, Charley, Ahenkorah (for Gregory)

Attendance: 278

Hitchin Town Man of the Match: Matt Lench

Written by Sean Fitzgerald

Match Video courtesy of Hitchin TV via this link

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