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Hitchin Town 4 Biggleswade United 2

Saturday, September 3 2016

Hitchin Town and Biggleswade United served up an exciting FA Cup tie for Non League Day. The Canaries eventually saw off Biggleswade United to book a place in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round but the win was not without alarms in front of a very healthy attendance of 708.

Hitchins only change from Dunstable was the return of Lucas Kirkpatrick in place of the absent Liam Brooks. 

The Canaries got off to a perfect start after 3 minutes as a Callum Donnelly freekick was sent into a crowded box where Matt Lench got the final touch.  

It got even better for Hitchin five minutes later. Josh Bickerstaff and Robbie Burns played their way out of defence in the left hand corner. A slick passing move developed along the length of that wing involving both Donnellys before the ball was cut infield for Lucas Kirkpatrick to slot calmly past Tom Wyant.

If the visitors’ defence was reeling, their attack started to test Hitchin’s as well. After Charlie Black had won Biggleswade’s first corner, the defence had to be alert to prevent Carlos Balbao getting a shot in. Then Nick Elliot headed just over from a James Cooper cross, after good play across the park by Black and Antonio Mitri. 

Biggleswade did grab a lifeline on 25 minutes. A challenge by Lewis Rolfe was harshly deemed a foul but the freekick by Elliot was met by the head of skipper Martin Russell. Michael Johnson got a touch on the ball but could not keep it out.

The game developed into a very open affair with attacks on top, as conditions became decidedly autumnal at Top Field. Burns had a shot deflected over while, at the other end, Biggleswade’s new signing Sergio Urbano had an effort blocked. The new arrival injected an element of drama into the game as he fell in the vicinity of Rolfe and then appeared to move his head towards the defender’s.  

As the half finished, both keepers were required to be alert - Tom Wyant cutting out a ball to Brett Donnelly after good work by Kane Smith and Matt Lench, and Johnson preventing Elliot from capitalising on a half chance.

HALF TIME Hitchin Town 2 Biggleswade Utd 1

Biggleswade had to make changes after the break as Russell did not reappear. However it did not stifle their intent. Johnson parried an Elliot shot and Lee Bilcock headed the resulting corner just wide.

At the other end, Brett Donnelly just failed to connect with a low cross - although the offside flag was up already - while Wyant gathered a strong Webb header from a Callum Donnelly corner.

The visitors were not to be denied their chance to cause an upset though. They made light of the two division gap between the teams as Black got a deflection on a freekick to level the scores in the 59th minute.

Hitchin retook the lead on 65 minutes when Brett Donnelly scored with a well placed header from a Kane Smith cross. 

Biggleswade continued to attack in search of an equaliser while Hitchin also decided that attack was the best form of defence rather than trying to shut up shop. Urbano had a snapshot turned round the post by Johnson after Hitchin lost possession, while Brett Donnelly was denied a hat-trick by a combination of crossbar and offside flag after he met a Lench cross.

It wasn’t until the final minute when the result was put beyond doubt. A Kirkpatrick corner appeared to have been cleared beyond the far post but Lench pursued the ball and crossed back into the box. It arrived for the number 11 to meet sweetly and conclude the scoring.

There was time for Kirkpatrick to play one final neat through ball to substitute Josh Coley, who was upended by Cooper. Lench’s freekick went just over the bar before the referee called time.

Hitchin go forward to the draw on Monday lunchtime for the next round of the FA Cup, shortly before their evening appointment with Potters Bar in the Herts Charity Cup. The result also saw the Canaries retain the Top Field Trophy, commemorating United’s support for us in the face of the threat from developers 2 years ago.

All credit though must be given to Biggleswade United for putting in an impressive performance on the pitch and for helping to generate considerable publicity for the match - and for Non League Day - ahead of the kick-off.

FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 4 Biggleswade United 2 

TEAMS
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Bickerstaff, Wright, Webb, Rolfe, Lench, C Donnelly, B Donnelly, Burns, Kirkpatrick; subs - Barnes, Hunt, Coley, Walster, McBride, S Barker
Biggleswade United - Wyant, J Cooper, Balbao, Bilcock, Russell, Hunt, Elliot, Mitri, Black, Urbano, Farrell; subs - Wright, Counihan, O’Neill, Owusu, Joy, Ngwala, M Cooper

GOALS
Hitchin Town - Lench (3), B Donnelly (65), Kirkpatrick (8, 90)
Biggleswade United - Russell (25), Black (59)

YELLOW CARDS
Hitchin Town - Smith, Kirkpatrick, C Donnelly
Biggleswade United - Urbano, Cooper

ATTENDANCE - 708

HITCHIN TOWN MOTM - Brett Donnelly

Colin, photo Keith Warren




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