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Cirencester Town 0 Hitchin Town 0

Saturday, October 1 2016

This will be seen as two points dropped rather than one gained after Hitchin dominated the game with Cirencester. In the first half particularly Hitchin were well on top and created a number of chances and while the performance level dropped in the second half it was still Hitchin who looked the more dangerous team. There was controversy though as Hitchin had two ‘’goals’’ disallowed for offside and while Brett Donnelly’s effort may have been correctly struck off , Dan Webb’s header in the second half appeared to be legitimate and the offside decision was vigorously contested by the Hitchin players.

It is never easy to visit a team who unveil a new manager and Charlie Griffin’s first game in charge saw Cirencester put in a much more committed and disciplined performance than in earlier games according to their fans and officials. Despite this Hitchin took the initiative from the start and had four good efforts in the first 21 minutes. Matt Lench shot wide after a corner while Robbie Burns saw a snap shot well saved. Alasan Ann hit a well struck shot just wide before Kane Smith made a good run before shooting just wide. Smith was the only change to the starting eleven as he came in to the midfield at the expense of Lewis McBride.

Brett Donnelly’s disallowed goal added to the frustration (or Nonnelly as he was named in the programme!) before Ben Walster put a free kick wide. Cirencester did not really trouble the Hitchin rearguard but Dan Webb was in superb form and he and Lewis Rolfe were a formidable central defensive partnership. In the second half Hitchin did not play with the same fluency but still had dangerous moments. Lench came close after 66 minutes before Michael Johnson made an excellent save from Ross Langworthy in a one on one situation. Johnson has been growing in confidence all season and is looking really solid as he continues to grow in confidence.

Webb’s disallowed header from a corner after 67 minutes seemed to signal it was not to be Hitchin’s day and further problems came when Callum Donnelly who had replaced Ann was shown a red card in the 83rd minute. He was involved in a 50/50 challenge with Kalum Youngsam and was definitely going for the ball. Referee Simon Shaw decided however that he had a foot off the ground and the reaction of Youngsam certainly did not help Callum’s cause nor did the cluster of Cirencester players who sought to give their opinion to the referee. 

James Verney replaced Burns and looked lively and he was particularly unlucky to have a shot cleared off the line in injury time as Hitchin despite being down to ten men still seemed the most likely team to score. But it remained goalless and while it is another unbeaten league game  it was acknowledged two points had slipped away. However another clean sheet and solid defensive performance is a positive and Hitchin remain in a play off position.

Cirencester - Rivers, Coates, Lapham, Liddiard, Brown, Ellcock, Smith, Mortimer-Jones, Bennett, Langworthy, Knight;  Subs - Farr, Youngsam for Smith 76, Connolly, Griffin
Hitchin - Johnson, Wright, Walster, Ann, Webb, Rolfe, Smith, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns, Lench; Subs - C Donnelly for Ann 72, Barnes, McBride, Varney for Burns 78, Coley

Sending off 
Hitchin - C Donnelly

Cirencester - Brown and Mortimer-Jones
Hitchin - Wright, B Donnelly and Rolfe

Attendance - 98

Roy Izzard, photo by Peter Else

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