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Frome Town 1 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, October 15 2016

The first 63 minutes of this game saw Hitchin struggling to replicate recent performances. They were 1-0 down and not really looking likely to find an equaliser and it was at this point that manager Mark Burke decided to take drastic measures. He made a triple substitution and changed the system from three centre backs to 4-4-2. Brett Donnelly, Ben Walster and Will Wright were replaced by Josh Coley, Josh Bickerstaff and Lewis Rolfe. Burke said after the game that he felt he needed to inject more energy in to the team and he was pleased with the response as Hitchin came right back in to the game and could have gone on to win.  As it was a 90th minute equaliser gained the point that pleased Burke as Frome were difficult opponents.

An unchanged team for the third successive game was expected with Josh Bickerstaff coming on the bench to replace the unavailable Sam Barker. But the game had a very scrappy opening as Frome made it difficult for Hitchin to play their normal passing game and too many long balls were played. Neither side had looked like scoring before Hitchin conceded a corner after 25 minutes and Nathan Summers rose unchallenged at the far post to head home. It was a poor goal to concede but Walster came close to drawing Hitchin level with a ferocious long range shot that Kyle Phillips tipped over the bar.

The remainder of the first half saw referee Philip Staynings take centre stage. He managed to book 5 players in an 8 minute spell. By the end of the game he had managed to book 10 players, 5 from each side and yet the game was no more feisty than that at Kings Langley when an excellent referee did not produce any yellow cards. Players were left bemused as yellow cards rained down like confetti with Stuart Pearson particularly unlucky when he timed a sliding tackle to perfection and clearly won the ball only to be penalised with a free kick and caution.

The triple substitution definitely made a difference and Hitchin began to get on top. Kane Smith hit the outside of the post with a powerful shot while Lucas Kirkpatrick found himself in a good position only to under hit his shot. Matt Lench then had a shot deflected wide as Hitchin chased down the equaliser. They won a number of corners but it began to feel like one of those days when the ball would not go in the net.

But in the 90th minute Smith hit a great shot from 25 yards out that took a slight deflection and Phillips had no chance. It was thoroughly deserved and kept Hitchin’s unbeaten league run going and it is always a good sign to get something from a game after a disappointing start.  The substitutions gave the side much needed momentum and this was a demonstration of the resilience that was such a feature of last season.

Frome Town - Phillips, Roberts, Green, Mapstone, Summers, Cleverley, Davies, Miller, Kirby, Moore, Darren Jefferies; Subs - Jackson for Kirby 70, Regan, Boulton, Miller, Josh Jefferies
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Walster, Wright, Webb, Pearson, Ann, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns, Lench; Subs - Rolfe for Wright 63, Verney, Coley for Donnelly 63. Barnes, Bickerstaff for Walster 63.

Frome Summers 25
Hitchin Smith 90

Frome  Cleverley, Roberts, Summers, D Jefferies, Davies
Hitchin  Walster, Webb, Lench, Pearson, Donnelly

Attendance 201

Roy Izzard, photo by Peter Else

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