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Chippenham Town 1 Hitchin Town 0

Saturday, December 17 2016

As expected this was a very tight game with two evenly matched sides providing an absorbing contest. In the end it was settled by a quality finish from Dave Pratt who gave a man of the match performance. But Hitchin gave as good as they got and if they had not had Lewis Rolfe sent off they could have hoped to have held on for a draw.

Team news saw Will Wright replace Kane Smith who was struggling with flu while Robbie Burns came in for the rested Liam Brooks and Mason Spence replaced the suspended Callum Donnelly in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Hitchin kicked down the slope in the first half that was keenly contested with both sides showing a great work ethic and space being at a premium. Burns had a free kick saved early on but with defences well drilled chances were at a premium. Brett Donnelly was booked in the 16th minute and significantly Rolfe received a yellow card for a professional foul after 16 minutes.

Michael Johnson had a good game and produced a fine save after a long throw caused problems, and again did well before a goal line clearance cleared the danger.  Andy Sandell and Pratt are a formidable strike duo and Hitchin were happy to reach half time level with Dan Webb heading wide from a Ben Walster free kick being the closest they came to scoring.

Up the slope Hitchin made an excellent start to the second half and keeper Darren Chitty did well to keep out a Donnelly header and Walster’s follow up shot. For Chippenham, Matt Jones shot wide from a good position but the pivotal moment in the game came in the 54th minute. Rolfe was penalised for a foul which with the reaction of the Chippenham players and crowd pressured the referee in to showing a second yellow card. To start with Josh Bickerstaff dropped back to central defence and Johnson made a good save from Jones.

On 61 minutes Mark Burke made a double change and brought on Smith for Spence and Brooks for Donnelly. Smith went to right back and Wright to central defence with Bickerstaff reverting to his midfield role. Walster came close before Johnson thwarted Jones again. 

Pratt had a big penalty shout on 74 minutes to no avail but just two minutes later he gave Chippenham the lead. Hitchin lost the ball in midfield and the ball came to Pratt from a Sandell cross and he provided a brilliant finish.

Hitchin did not give up despite the disadvantage of having ten men but could not create any clear cut chances against a strong Chippenham defence. While any defeat is disappointing Hitchin did play well and they deserve to be in the mix for the play off positions.

Chippenham were difficult opponents but Hitchin matched them all the way. They must now overcome the loss of three players to suspension for their visit to Cinderford on Tuesday and get back to winning ways.

Teams
Chippenham TownChitty, Bowman, Beeden, Pook, Horgan, Richards, Ferguson, Guthrie, Pratt, Sandell, Jones; Subs - Mateus for Guthrie 76, Felix, Campbell, Rae.
Hitchin TownJohnson, Wright, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe, Spence, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns, Lench; Subs - Smith for Spence 60, Brooks for B Donnelly 60, Clarke, King.

Scorer  

Chippenham Town - Pratt 74

Sending off
Hitchin Town - Rolfe (2 yellows)

Bookings
Chippenham Town - Ferguson and Richards
Hitchin Town - B Donnelly and Walster

Attendance - 307

Roy Izzard



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