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Biggleswade Town 1 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, November 12 2016

An 88th minute equaliser from Biggleswade Town meant a replay at Top Field on Monday will be needed to see who goes through to the next round of the F A Trophy. Manager Mark Burke was happy to be in the hat for Monday’s draw as he had always anticipated a difficult local derby and he also felt the players were jaded after the Arsenal game on Thursday. He named the same starting line up as at Slough but the team never reached the same level of performance. While there was some neat midfield play the final pass was not being accurately delivered and too many crosses failed to reach the danger area.

The first half did not have a great deal of goalmouth action. Callum Donnelly shot wide early on while Inih Effiong put a free kick the wrong side of the post. Another free kick from Craig Daniel clipped the bar but neither keeper was greatly troubled until Josh Bickerstaff smashed home an unstoppable shot from 25 yards after 39 minutes with Ian Brown beaten all ends up. The large Hitchin contingent in the crowd duly celebrated.

Robbie Burns had a couple of half chances early on in the second half but Biggleswade were coming in to the game. Rhys Hoenes shot wide before Lewis Rolfe made a brilliant tackle as Effiong was about to pull the trigger.

Brett Donnelly replaced Will Wright with Kane Smith dropping in at full back and the ex Biggleswade hero held the ball up well and provided a more physical challenge for the home defence. Burns came close after a free kick and his lob was headed over the bar by a defender. Dan Webb then put a header wide as referee Whittaker began booking players for fun, eventually issuing no less than seven yellow cards (five to Hitchin) in a game that could never be described as containing any overtly physical challenges.

Brett Donnelly had a goal chalked off for offside after an excellent move soon after Mason Spence replaced Lucas Kirkpatrick. Biggleswade committed more men forward and Hitchin dropped deeper and just when it seemed that Bickerstaff’s goal would be enough Connor Hall produced a brilliant equaliser after 88 minutes. There were five additional minutes and Hitchin were effectively down to ten men with Matt Lench limping badly with all three substitutions having been made but they ensured a replay with few further alarms.

Biggleswade possibly did enough to earn the draw but Hitchin will know they were not at their best. There is certainly more in the locker and they will hope history repeats itself as they won their second qualifying replay against Haringey last year having drawn away.

Biggleswade Town - Brown, Perry, Hall, Short, Hoyte, Daniel, Patrick, Effiong, Burnett, Hoenes; Subs - Iwediuno, Norman, Lucan (for Patrick), Vinceny (for Effiong), Key
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Wright, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe, Smith, C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick, Burns, Lench; Subs - B Donnelly (for Wright 64), Spence (for Kirkpatrick 77), King, Brooks (for C Donnelly 86), Clarke.

Biggleswade - Hall 88 
Hitchin - Bickerstaff 39

Biggleswade - Short and Hoyte
Hitchin - Rolfe, Kirkpatrick, Bickerstaff, B Donnelly, C Donnelly

Attendance 325

Roy Izzard

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