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Hitchin Town 2 Kettering Town 1

Saturday, October 24 2015

Two goals in the last twelve minutes turned this game on its head as Hitchin Town came from a goal down to snatch victory in the 89th minute.

Hitchin came into the game without Callum Donnelly and Robbie Burns who were, respectively, suspended and unavailable.

After an early period of sparring, the match came to life with goal line clearances at both ends within the space of a minute. Firstly, from a Kettering free kick taken by Brighton, the ball fell to Baker-Richardson. Horlock and Webb went down to clear and it was the defender that got the vital touch.

On the break at the other end, McNamara got in a shot that deflected off keeper Hill towards goal and required Langdon to head clear on the line.

Although even in terms of possession, The Poppies had the clearer chances and it required a number of saves by Horlock, and some good fortune, to keep the scores level. He got down to save a shot from Baker-Richardson as the forward advanced down the left flank, and then the same player beat himself – kicking thin air when well-placed after being set up by a Mulligan header.

Horlock had to gather at the feet of the advancing Ogbonna, before pushing away a Canavan shot from a corner. However the keeper could do nothing from the resulting corner in the 30th minute. The Hitchin defence were unable to clear the ball and it was slotted home from close range by Ogbonna.

The Canaries pushed for an equaliser and had the ball in the net after good work from Lench. He crossed from the right and the ball was slotted home by McNamara. However the offside flag had already been raised.

HALF TIME Hitchin Town 0 Kettering Town 1

The second half began as the first had done, with play moving from end to end, but without clear cut chances. The lively Ogbonna fired over after being put in by Brighton, and then delivered a good cross for Canavan, which forced another good save from Horlock.

At the other end, Barker fired over while a good build up between Kirkpatrick, Smith and McNamara ended with the latter's cross hitting the side netting. Following a free kick, Kirkpatrick also had a shot blocked before the Kettering defence scrambled the ball away.

With the second half finely balanced and Kettering looking like they would claim their third league win on the spin, Mark Burke made two important substitutions. Pearson replaced Lench to shore up the defence and Brett Donnelly made his first league appearance of the season to replace Frendo.

Pearson nearly contributed to a good Hitchin chance. Rolfe was fouled by Langdon – who was yellow carded by the effectively low-key referee – and the substitute flicked on Barker’s freekick. The flick on was met by Webb and Hill was forced into a save.

However Hitchin were not to be denied and the equaliser came on 78 minutes from a long throw which Hill was unable to claim, allowing Lucas Kirkpatrick to bundle the ball home.

There was still defending to do, as substitute Obeng was brought on to allow Kettering to hold what they still had and rely on counterattacks; he could only shoot weakly though after good work by Brighton and Grocott.

Nevertheless, Hitchin look re-energised as Donnelly made his presence felt and started to win headers that enabled his team mates to advance onto the ball.

Hitchin’s revival was complete on 89 minutes when Donnelly flicked a header on and Lucas Kirkpatrick put the ball into the path of McNamara. The winger still had work to do but kept his nerve and fired past Hill into the bottom corner of the net.

Kettering had one last chance as Obeng broke free but Alasan Ann was alert and snuffed out the Poppies’ attack before the final whistle.

The win allowed The Canaries to leapfrog Kettering in the crowded Evo Stik Southern League table, and should provide a confidence boost as they turn their attention to two cup games in the next week.

Final score: Hitchin Town 2 Kettering Town 1

Hitchin Town MOTM: Charlie Horlock

Attendance: 379

Hitchin - Horlock, Smith, Rolfe, Ann (cap), Webb, Bickerstaff, McNamara, Barker, Kirkpatrick, Frendo, Lench
Subs - Brett Donnelly (for Frendo), Johnson, Walster, Wright, Pearson (for Lench)
Kettering - Hill, Richens, Langdon, Solkhon (cap), Thorne, Mulligan, Grocott, Ogbonna, Baker-Richardson, Canavan, Brighton
Subs – Brown (for Ogbonna), Gooding, Obeng (for Baker-Richardson), Sandy, Williams (for Grocott)

First goal

Colin (photo by Peter Else)

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