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Hitchin Town 2 Dunstable Town 0

Monday, December 26 2016

Hitchin Town maintained their unbeaten home record at Top Field and moved into second place in the table as they finally saw off ten-man Dunstable Town with two late goals. 

The only change to the side that won at Cinderford saw Ben Walster return in place of Conor Clarke who was on the bench along with Callum Donnelly who had completed his suspension.

The first half offered little seasonal excitement for the big Boxing Day crowd. Matt Lench had an effort charged down and another shot gathered easily by Jamie Head in the Blues’ goal. At the other end,  Michael Johnson mis-kicked a couple of clearances as the Dunstable front line put the Canaries defence under pressure and Kelvin Bossman skied a shot that the keeper gathered. Lench was also nearly on the end of a “route one” freekick that Webb nodded on. 

The big talking point of the half was the dismissal of Dunstable’s Josh Oyinsan on 38 minutes as the frontman received a straight red card for elbowing Dan Webb. The referee showed no hesitation in making his decision. Dunstable had one last half chance before the break as Kelvin Bossman fired wide after being put through by Danny Talbot.

Half time - Hitchin Town 0 Dunstable Town 0

The start of the second half promised more excitement as Lench shot wide and Mason Spence brought Head into action, while Bossman nearly pounced on a Ben Walster error. A low Hitchin freekick took a deflection which forced a corner and Webb then headed over.

However the visitors - particularly the central pairing of Iwediuno and Pepera - continued to defend resolutely and restrict Hitchin’s chances. The Canaries were not at their most fluent and Mark Burke brought Callum Donnelly into the action to try and push for the result.

Zach Reynolds - who was sent off in the reverse fixture and had already picked up a first half booking - brought down Lench as he looked to break through the defence but the referee surprisingly kept his cards in his pocket. 

If Burke’s first substitution did not immediately yield a goal, the second change paid dividends straightaway. On 83 minutes a long throw by Lench caused chaos in the visitors’ box. One shot was cleared but the ball finally fell to substitute Kieran Barnes who had only just come on. His first touch was a scuffed shot that found the corner of the net.

Four minutes later, Dunstable’s misery was complete when Hitchin were awarded a freekick just outside the area. A powerful curling shot from Walster gave Head no chance as the fullback claimed his eighth goal of the season. 

With Slough not playing until Tuesday and Chippenham dropping points, Hitchin moved into second place at least for a day. In previous years, with the scores level on 80 minutes, the expectation might have been for a goalless draw but not for the first time this season, the team persisted and finally got their reward.

Final score - Hitchin Town 2 Dunstable Town 0

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Wright, Spence, Kirkpatrick, Brooks, Burns, Lench; subs - Callum Donnelly (for Burns), Clarke, King, Barnes (for Spence), Coley
Dunstable - Head, Reynolds, Okita, Talbot, Iwediuno, Pepara, Bossman, Longe-King, Oyinsan, Bush, Jack Green; subs - Danny Green (for Talbot), Moussi, Bola (for Bush), Hutchinson, Smith

Hitchin Town - Barnes (83), Walster (87)

Yellow cards
Hitchin Town - Bickerstaff
Dunstable Town - Talbot, Reynolds

Red card
Dunstable Town - Oyinsan

Hitchin Town matchball sponsors MOTM - Ben Walster

Attendance - 613

Colin, photo by Peter Else

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