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Hadley 0 Hitchin Town 3

Wednesday, December 7 2016

Hitchin began their defence of the Hertfordshire Senior Cup with a comfortable win against a spirited Hadley side. 

The Canaries fielded a strong starting eleven with Conor Clarke, Mason Spence and Michael King coming into the side. Josh Bickerstaff and Will Wright paired up in the centre of defence with Matt Lench starting slightly deeper than usual and Spence and Robbie Burns playing wide. Hadley, from the Spartan South Midlands League, featured one familiar face with Tyrone Mulholland - who is on loan there - starting against his parent club.

Hitchin began by fashioning half chances with Donnelly glancing a King cross to the back post where Wright couldn’t connect properly, while Donnelly himself received a teasing cross from Spence which again could not be converted. While Hitchin applied most of the pressure, Hadley played on the break running at the makeshift back four, with Muklak having an effort blocked. 

Hitchin’s pressure did pay off as the game entered its second quarter. Charlie Mann in the Hadley goal had done well to tip a Burns free kick over the bar but soon afterwards he could only parry a shot from Ben Walster. The ball bounced out to Spence who did well to get over the ball and slot home the rebound.

Donnelly had the ball in the Hadley net when he got onto the end of a King effort but he was standing in an offside position and the goal was chalked off. A second goal did however follow six minutes later. Brooks was fouled in the area and the referee awarded a spot kick. Walster made no mistake to double the lead.

Although Wright then headed over from a corner, Hadley ended the half positively. Mulholland put Bwanga through on goal and Johnson did well to save from the number 9. Hadley then missed another half chance when a header from a freekick flew over the bar before Muklak tried to capitalise on a loose back-pass from Burns. Johnson was forced to frantically control the ball before he could clear the danger.

Half time - Hadley 0 Hitchin Town 2

Hitchin tried to wrap the game up at the start of the second half and Clarke was on the end of a good move with a low shot that clipped the wrong side of the post. Donnelly also fired over from close range when well placed. At the other end, Hadley were still hanging on and the lively Bwanga fired into the side netting, while Clarke did well to hold off the striker in a 1 on 1 situation.

Hitchin had further chances to extend the lead. King set up a chance for Spence, whose effort was half stopped by Mann but Donnelly was flagged for offside before he could convert the rebound. Mann then did well to get down to save an effort from Burns and to react to a deflected shot from King.

Finally Hitchin grabbed a third goal that effectively sealed the win. Walster sent in a cross from the left that flew across the area to Spence who was running in at the far post to score his second of the game. 

The remainder of the match was almost a personal duel between Spence and Mann as the midfielder looked for his hat-trick. Spence got on the end of a cross from Lench which Mann saved. King and Spence then set up a chance for Alfie Barker, who has bagged plenty of goals on loan at Codicote, but he could not add to his total and fired over. Mann then denied Spence once more and finally, even when the keeper was beaten, Spence was denied his third by the woodwork!

The referee blew promptly for full time - which was just as well as the 9.30pm curfew at Hadley’s ground was looming.  

Of the players getting valuable game time, Spence stood out but Clarke had a sound game at the back before going off injured while King was constantly involved in Hitchin’s build-up play. This will give Mark Burke some options for the Chelmsford game.

Full time - Hadley 0 Hitchin Town 3

Hadley - Mann, Davite, Woodley, Sabag, Lyon, Elliott, Mulholland, Bwanga, Hesham, Machado, Muklak; subs - Gibbs, Milton, Odusoga, Phinn-Archer, Small

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Clarke, Walster, Bickerstaff, Wright, Spence, Lench, Brooks, B Donnelly, Burns, King; subs - Payne, A Barker (for Donnelly), Smith (for Clarke), Kirkpatrick (for Brooks), Webb

Hitchin Town - Spence (26, 75), Walster (pen 32)

Attendance - 61


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