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Hitchin Town 3 Banbury United 1

Saturday, August 27 2016

Hitchin Town returned to winning ways with their first victory since the opening day of the season.

The Canaries welcomed back Brett Donnelly, as well as Kane Smith and Josh Bickerstaff for their first starts of the season. Lewis Rolfe sat in front of a back four with Smith and Bickerstaff still looking to come forward.†

Smith looked at full fitness with an early dash down the flank, covering more than half the length of the pitch before his cross was cleared. Matt Lench also looked a threat to the Puritans and put in a drilled cross-shot which no-one can get a touch on, while Liam Brooks could not get a pass from Smith under control.

A goal did arrive after 13 minutes and it was the returning number 9 that claimed it. Donnelly slotting home his shot on the turn following a Canary corner.

Hitchin continued to have the upper hand and on 25 minutes they extended their lead. Brett Donnelly was involved again as his low shot was well saved by Jack Harding but Lench outpaced the defence to slot the rebound home.

Kieran Barnes had a good chance to cause more damage but his header following a Smith throw went over the bar.

Banbury struggled to create a threat in the first period. The best chance came when a free kick found Mark Janes well placed at the back post. His effort from close range lacked venom and Michael Johnson scrambled the effort away with his feet.

HItchinís workrate was impressive with the front players coming back to support the defence. The referee rather harshly responded by brandishing a spate of yellow cards just before the interval - both Donnellys and Bickerstaff - but the game certainly didnít merit that sort of tally.

Half time: Hitchin Town 2 Banbury United 0

After the break, The Puritans had chances to get back into the game with Ricky Johnson involved at the centre of events. His first effort was a snapshot over the bar.

At the other end, one of a number of curling crosses from Smith caused problems for Harding who was under attention from Dan Webb. The keeper dropped the cross but was rescued when a free kick was awarded.†

Ricky Johnson was then back in action as he headed a Felipe Barcelos cross over when he should have hit the target. He was then denied when running in on goal as Michael Johnson came to the edge of the area to take the ball from his feet. Some Banbury fans suggested the keeper had taken the man but the referee was certain that he had cleared the ball.†

Robbie Burns replaced Barnes and he put in a low shot that Harding got down to gather.†

Banbury sub Duran Martin tested Johnson with a shot that was deflected just wide for a corner, and the keeper also got a hand on a free kick from the same player.

The Canaries werenít quite as dominant at this stage but came close as Rolfe broke up a Banbury attack and launched his own before putting in Josh Coley. However the Hitchin sub snatched his shot which flew across the face of the goal.†

The result was put beyond doubt when Hitchin finally extended the lead on 86 minutes. Another teasing cross from Smith was met at the far post with a superb diving header by substitute Robbie Burns.

There was just time for Leam Howards to claim a late consolation goal for Banbury, squeezing a long ball past Michael Johnson, but Hitchin took the honours deservedly. There were a number of strong performances apart from Man of The Match Brett Donnelly with Lench, Rolfe and Callum Donnelly keeping a firm grip on the midfield. The Canaries will now be looking to carry this form into their derby against high-flying Dunstable Town on Monday afternoon.

Full time: Hitchin Town 3 Banbury United 1

Teams

Hitchin Town: Michael Johnson, Smith, Bickerstaff, Wright, Webb, Rolfe, Lench, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly (Alfie Barker 90), Brooks (Coley 83), Barnes (Burns 63); subs (not used): Callum Riley, Tom Bryant
Banbury United: Harding, White, Lynn, Nash, Westbrook, Gunn, Janes, Self (Martin 63), Ricky Johnson, Barcelos (Howards 75), Bell (Browne 58); subs (not used): Blackstock, Fawke

Goals

Hitchin Town: Brett Donnelly (13), Lench (25), Burns (86)
Banbury United: Howards (89)

Yellow cards

Hitchin Town: Callum Donnelly, Bickerstaff, Brett Donnelly
Banbury United: None

Hitchin Town MOTM: Brett Donnelly

Attendance: 350

Colin, photo by Peter Else




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