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Hitchin Town 1 Basingstoke Town 0

Saturday, September 10 2016

A late goal by Brett Donnelly separated the sides as Hitchin Town ground out a win against Basingstoke Town.

Hitchin rang the changes up front with Matt Lench, Robbie Burns, and Callum and Brett Donnelly all returning. There was also experience to call on with Stuart Pearson, Will Wright and Sam Barker all on the bench.

As the game started so did the rain, and the whole match was played out in wet conditions - although the pitch held up throughout. Hitchin dominated the early stages with Brett Donnelly nearly getting onto a Lench through ball, and Lucas Kirkpatrick volleying a Ben Walster cross goalwards only for Robert Atkinson to make a vital block.

The Canaries were unable to turn their possession into clear cut chances although, in the space of a minute, Brett Donnelly put one headed effort just wide while a second looped over the goal. 

Despite some creative work by Sam Deadfield, Basingstoke struggled to threaten the Hitchin goal before half time. One Deadfield free kick caused problems in the Hitchin box while a misjudged backpass put Michael Johnson under pressure before Dan Webb stepped in the clear the danger.

As Hitchin maintained momentum, Robbie Burns brought the ball under control and unleashed a snapshot from 20 yards all in one move. The effort flew just wide. Webb did have the ball in the net when he headed home a Kirkpatrick cross, only for the assistant’s flag to be raised. Before the break, Callum Donnelly found his way between two Basingstoke men but was put off by a third onrushing defender just as he shaped to shoot.

HALF TIME Hitchin Town 0 Basingstoke Town 0

Basingstoke boss Terry Brown made two positive substitutions at the interval - replacing his ineffective strike force - and a third minutes later. The visitors looked more dangerous as a result with Ashleigh Artwell in particular posing a threat with a header from a Damone Rose cross and a shot that forced Johnson into a save. However Hitchin were well marshalled at the back by "man of the match" Lewis Rolfe who also sought to bring the ball out of defence. In truth, Johnson was not being tested as much as the visitors would’ve liked. 

As the half wore on, it was noticeable that Hitchin’s energy and running was as good as that of Basingstoke’s full-time players. The Canaries started to impose themselves again as the game entered the last quarter.  

Burns tried another snapshot that nearly caught Tokarczyk out - the keeper got down to his near post to keep the ball out while conceding a corner. Callum Donnelly and Burns, again, also got in shots that were wide. 

However it appeared that the afternoon was heading for frustration until the 89th minute. 
The points were then sealed as Brett Donnelly got a powerful header on a Sam Barker cross to give Tokarczyk no chance. The goal sparked celebrations in the stands and an altercation in the dugouts which saw Terry Brown and Hitchin assistant Adam Parker banished from the bench!

However that was the end of the action on the pitch and the Canaries could be well satisfied with a result that moved them up to 9th in the table. 

FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 1 Basingstoke Town 0 

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe, Lench, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly, Burns, Kirkpatrick; subs -  Wright, Barnes, McBride (for Lench), Pearson, Sam Barker (for Kirkpatrick)
Basingstoke Town - Tokarczyk, Johnson-Schuster, Robert Atkinson, Partridge, Gater, Ray, Deadfield, Collier, Jarvis, Hallahan, Michael Atkinson; subs -  Redford (for Jarvis), Artwell (for Deadfield), Rose (for Hallahan), Hastings, Bennett

Hitchin Town - Brett Donnelly (89)

Yellow cards

Hitchin Town - Rolfe

Basingstoke Town - Atkinson, Partridge

Hitchin Town MOTM: Lewis Rolfe 

Attendance: 303

Colin, photos by Peter Else

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