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Cinderford Town 0 Hitchin Town 1

Tuesday, December 20 2016

This was a game where the omens did not look good for Hitchin. They were without the suspended trio of Callum and Brett Donnelly and Lewis Rolfe while Ali Ann, Stuart Pearson and Zak Barrett remained unavailable due to long term injuries. To make matters worse Josh Coley dropped out through illness while Ben Walster could not leave work early enough for the 3.00pm departure. This meant only 14 players made the long journey to Cinderford which itself  was another problem to overcome. When returning to Hitchin at 1.30am these problems had been overcome.

Mark Burke decided to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Michael Johnson was in goal while Kane Smith was right back and Conor Clarke was in the unfamiliar role of left back. Will Wright partnered Dan Webb in central defence while Lucas Kirkpatrick and Josh Bickerstaff were the holding midfield players. Mason Spence, Matt Lench and Robbie Burns were the three more advanced midfielders with Liam Brooks in the striking role.

The long coach journey did not seem to have affected Hitchin as they made a solid start. Smith had an early effort saved and after Johnson saved from Callum McOnie, Spence produced a great run and ended up shooting just wide of the post.

A minute later Hitchin took a deserved lead. Spence and Brooks linked well and when Cameron Clarke could only parry Brooks’ shot, Lench was on hand to bury the rebound. Cinderford though did not crumble and produced some good football, belying their league position. The Hitchin defence had to perform well and a corner after 25 minutes lead to a goalmouth scramble that caused problems.

As ever the whole team worked hard and there was a real determination to defend the lead. Clarke shot in to the side netting and Hitchin reached half time deservedly in front.

Spence had to be replaced by Michael King in the second half because of a back injury. King went in to the striking role with Brooks dropping back to midfield. Burns and Lench had near misses but Cinderford continued to chase the equaliser and it took a quite brilliant challenge from Smith to tackle Jaye Bowen as he was about to shoot. Cinderford made two substitutions but Hitchin continued to defend with great commitment and always looked the better footballing team.

This was another vital win particularly considering the problems they encountered. Cinderford have beaten Chippenham and Merthyr at home so it is a better victory than it might at first appear. It continues the trend this season of Hitchin following a defeat with a positive result—there have not yet been consecutive defeats. The value of a strong squad was again emphasised as Wright, Clarke, Spence and King all played their part. Hitchin moved up to third and while they have played more games than some of their rivals the points are in the bag and in the new year there should not be too many midweek games and hopefully the players will remain fresh for the challenges ahead.

Finally it was a pleasure to see a referee at the top of his game. Mr Howes was impressive throughout and did not resort to handing out any bookings at all.



Clarke, Parry, Bloom, Nelmes, Clare, Alderdice, McOnie, Hicks, Tomas, Bowen, Chambers  Subs Turner for McOnie 81, Hands, Michael, Howells, Ellis for Bowen 76.


Johnson, Smith, Clarke, Bickerstaff, Webb, Wright, Spence, Kirkpatrick, Brooks, Burns, Lench  Subs King for Spence 46, Barnes, Riley.

Scorer  Lench 13

Bookings  None

Attendance 171

Roy Izzard

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