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Hitchin Town 0 Dorchester Town 1

Monday, February 27 2017

Hitchin Town’s unbeaten home run in the league had to end at some point. The surprise was that it ended to lowly Dorchester as the Magpies completed a smash and grab raid on the Canaries.

Dorchester grabbed an early lead and clung on to their advantage as Hitchin could not match the fluency and efficiency that they had shown two days earlier against King's Lynn.

Mark Burke rotated his starting eleven as Brett Donnelly and Brooks replaced Burns and Spence but it was at the other end where Hitchin were exposed in the 5th minute. Dorchester had already begun assertively and Davis on the Dorchester right got past Bickerstaff. His well-placed cross allowed Blair to get in a perfectly placed - but unmarked - header to give Johnson no chance.

The Canaries had the majority of possession and a Lench shot that was on target unfortunately cannoned off Brooks, while Murphy in the visitors’ goal cut out a Lench cross ahead of Donnelly.

While Dorchester were content to play on the break, they broke in numbers and Kane Smith had to make a great tackle to halt one advance.

Murphy was alert again as a Wright flick from a free kick forced him to palm the ball away. He then got down well to prevent Donnelly and Webb following up. The keeper also denied Brooks and Webb but was only called upon to make regulation saves.

Dorchester had other chances to extend their lead on their infrequent ventures into the Hitchin half. Clarke evaded the Canaries defence but then skewed his effort wide when well placed while Johnson saved from Blair after Mehew had picked up the ball on the flank, although the assistant referee was way behind play and failed to spot that the number 9 was offside.

As the half ended, Lench fired wide, Murphy was equal to a Kirkpatrick snapshot from distance, and Walker did well to cut out a dangerous cross from Lench. The phrase “after the Lord Mayor’s show” had already been used more than once but Hitchin still had 45 minutes to turn the game round.

HALF TIME - Hitchin Town 0 Dorchester Town 1

Mark Burke replaced Brooks with top scorer Burns after the break as Hitchin continued to push for the equaliser. Another low cross from Lench was just in front of Brett and Callum Donnelly, while Murphy continued to keep Hitchin at bay pushing aside a shot from the number 8 and saving from Kirkpatrick.

Murphy was forced into one of his best saves after Smith ran at the defence, played a 1-2 with Brett Donnelly and closed in on goal. He then had to pull off another good save from his own man as Oldring tried to head the ball clear - an effort that carried more venom than many from the home side!

Dorchester remained camped in their own half as Hitchin piled on the pressure. Despite notching up many late goals this season, on this occasion efforts went wide or were comfortable for Murphy. Spence injected some energy into the attack but his best through ball bounced off the back of Brett Donnelly’s boot while Burns could not turn the game around.

Dorchester defended resolutely and were happy to be physical about it when required - chalking up four yellow cards - and getting away with a shout for a Hitchin penalty. However as the catalogue of missed chances piled up, it was clear that this was not Hitchin’s night.

This was the first home defeat in the league for over a year and the first in all competitions since the FA Cup replay against Faversham Town and, like that game, it was on an occasion when perhaps it was expected to be a comfortable win. The Canaries now need to return to winning ways in next weekend’s double header against St Ives and Cirencester.

FINAL SCORE - Hitchin Town 0 Dorchester Town 1


Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb, Wright, Kirkpatrick, Callum Donnelly, Brett Donnelly, Brooks, Lench; subs - Burns (for Brooks), Bennett, Spence (for Kirkpatrick), Walster, Barnes

Dorchester Town - Murphy, Oldring, Williams, Vance, Walker, Down, Davis, Clarke, Mehew, Jerrard, Blair; subs - Bassett, Griggs (for Davis), Brookes, Powell (for Mehew), Mitchell


Dorchester Town - Blair (5)

Yellow cards

Dorchester Town - Blair, Davis, Vance, Griggs

Attendance - 318

Hitchin Town MOTM - Matt Lench

Colin, photo Peter Else

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