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Hitchin Town 3 Cheshunt 1

Monday, February 6 2017

Hitchin progressed to a second consecutive Herts Senior Cup final with this comfortable victory against Cheshunt on a night when the rain was unrelenting. Conditions were difficult but full credit to Hitchin’s ground staff as the pitch held up really well  as the rain just kept coming down in torrents. The Hitchin players made light of the conditions and in the first half in particular played some excellent football that could and probably should have led to an even more convincing score line. The confidence is growing game by game and even when the personnel change the flowing football continues to be produced.

For this game Jonny McNamara was cup tied while Brett Donnelly and Kane Smith dropped to the bench with Mason Spence, Liam Brooks and Matt Lench coming in to the starting eleven. From the first whistle Hitchin were on their game and Lucas Kirkpatrick, who gave another impressive performance, could have scored after 3 minutes but scuffed his shot. Then Lench had his shot from the familiar short corner routine cleared off the line before Callum Donnelly failed to beat the goalkeeper from another well worked chance. 

With the quality of football being produced a goal had to come and after Robbie Burns had been thwarted by a great block from Dave Kendall he put Hitchin ahead in the 19th minute after a good set up by Spence. Hitchin continued to dominate and after Callum Donnelly shot just over the bar, Burns doubled the lead after 32 minutes when Cheshunt failed to clear a free kick with a decisive finish. Will Wright had a chance from a free kick on the edge of the penalty area but could not keep his shot down.

A two goal lead was the least Hitchin deserved for a totally dominant first half performance but they made a sluggish start to the second half and manager Mark Burke could be heard berating the players as he was not happy to see the drop off in standards. Cheshunt, who tried to play football throughout and were a credit to their league, had their best spell of the game. Michael Johnson proved his concentration levels remained high despite being a spectator in the first half and he made good saves from Liam Hope and Daniel Cheema.

Brett Donnelly replaced Brooks and gradually Hitchin began to return to their first half standards. Spence shot just wide before Lench clinched the victory on 60 minutes with a good finish from a tight angle after Spence’s shot had been parried. Spence came close again after another good run while Burns just failed to complete his hat trick. Michael King and Callum Riley came on for precious game time before Cheshunt scored an 87th minute consolation goal through George Lataaya after a rare defensive error. But Hitchin were fully deserving of the victory that keeps their impressive run going although Burke is making sure nobody gets carried away. While he was delighted with the first half he was critical of the way the second half started and this shows he will make sure the players retain the high standards they have set so far and will not allow any drop off in performance levels.

The win was just reward for the 162 fans who braved the appalling conditions and Monday nights at Top Field continue to be very productive for Hitchin. Finally referee Joel Mannix deserves praise as he gave an exemplary performance that showed common sense throughout.

Teams

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Spence, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb, Wright, Lench, C Donnelly, Brooks, Burns, Kirkpatrick Subs B Donnelly for Brooks 56, Bennett, Smith, King for Burns 81, Riley for C Donnelly 85
Cheshunt - Gooch, Clemo, Thomas, Kizzi, Kendall, Illsley, Cheema, Bruno, Hallett, Hope, Marshall  Subs Lampe, Lataaya for Marshall 68, Stead for Hope 77, Smyth for Illsley 77, Spearman

Scorers 
Hitchin Town - Burns 19 and 32, Lench 60
Cheshunt - Lataaya 87

Bookings  None

Attendance 162

Roy Izzard




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