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Weymouth 0 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, January 9 2016

Hitchin’s impressive season continues to reach new heights. This 2-0 victory was even more emphatic than the score would suggest as Hitchin could and should have won even more convincingly. Weymouth were in seventh position before the game with only one previous home league defeat with their manager having stated he considered this a must win game. However Hitchin produced what manager Mark Burke considered to be their best performance of the season and it really was impressive to see Weymouth restricted to just one shot that tested Charlie Horlock. Hitchin were dominant throughout and coupled excellent football with a massive work ethic as they closed Weymouth down so quickly in what was a real team performance.

The Weymouth ground staff deserve great praise for producing such a good playing surface despite the horrendous weather but there was a very difficult wind to contend with. Hitchin had that wind behind them in the first half and made a very good start to the game. Burke had named an unchanged starting eleven with Alasan Ann on the bench and their confidence was apparent. Matt Lench had a shot saved after just two minutes while Callum Donnelly fired over the bar soon after. Then Josh Bickerstaff had a header from Sam Barker’s free kick tipped over the bar by Jason Matthews with Weymouth unable to get in to the game.

The first goal came on 15 minutes and owed much to Jonny McNamara chasing down a ball he could easily have given up on. Matthews raced off his line and just got there before McNamara but skewed his clearance to Lench who was 40 yards from goal. He did not panic and was calmness personified as he shot in to the empty net. Hitchin deserved the lead and continued on the front foot. McNamara miscued a shot wide before Ben Thomson was fortunate to only receive a yellow card for a terrible challenge on Bickerstaff. Lench forced a good save from Matthews before McNamara twice came close just before half time. 

1-0 was scant reward for a brilliant first half and there was a worry that the missed chances could haunt Hitchin in the second half particularly as Weymouth would have the wind advantage. However such fears were not realised as Hitchin continued to be the better side against the wind. McNamara had a shot blocked  while Pat Baldwin saw yellow for a poor challenge on the hard working Robbie Burns. Weymouth made two changes including the introduction of leading scorer Stewart Yetton while Ann came on for Lucas Kirkpatrick after 73 minutes.

Horlock who had been a spectator for most of the game was finally called in to action in the 75th minute when he did well to push a Chris Shephard free kick over the bar. But Hitchin were still looking dangerous and when Callum Donnelly was fouled by Dean Evans at the expense of a booking Weymouth paid a very high price as Ann smashed home the free kick from 25 yards with his first meaningful touch after 78 minutes. It was the latest in a series of successful Ann free kicks this season. The goal saw many Weymouth fans making for the exit as the result was no longer in any doubt.

Brett Donnelly came on for Burns and Hitchin comfortably played out the remainder of the game to secure a tremendous victory on a ground where they had not won since promotion having drawn two and lost two. The statistics get more impressive with eight clean sheets in the last eleven games, one defeat in 19 games and 11 league games unbeaten. Hitchin have reached their lofty position on merit and the great team spirit engendered by Burke and his management team is very important. 

Hitchin are a team in the truest sense and have been working that much harder than their opponents in most games. The defensive strength is so impressive and the midfield and forwards really help out the back four. It hardly seems fair to single out any player from such a team effort but Dan Webb was immaculate from start to finish and he is a player that never seems to get the credit he deserves as he just always seems to do his job with the minimum of fuss.

Surely the team deserve a bumper turn out for the ‘’pay what you want game’’ against Frome next Saturday as a reward for their tremendous sequence of results.

Teams
Hitchin  Horlock, Smith, Bickerstaff, C Donnelly, Webb, Rolfe, McNamara, Lench, Kirkpatrick, Burns, Barker  Subs Ann for Kirkpatrick 73, B Donnelly for Burns 85, Wright, Martin, Barnes

Weymouth  Matthews, Cooper, Wannell, Evans, Baldwin, Brooks, Molesley, Rigg, Surridge, Thomson, Shephard  Subs Wells, Yetton for Surridge 67, McPhee, Lowea, Kelly for Rigg 60

Bookings
Hitchin  Lench
Weymouth  Evans, Baldwin, Thomson and Kelly

Attendance 494

Roy Izzard




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