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Kettering Town 0 Hitchin Town 0

Saturday, August 13 2016

Hitchin went in to this difficult game at Kettering with a number of players missing. Brett Donnelly and Josh Bickerstaff were still away while Alasan Ann had only just started light training. Sam Barker got injured at Hayes as did Zak Barrett and Dan Webb to compound the problems for manager Mark Burke. Michael Johnson was in goal and Burke opted for a 3-5-2 formation with Lewis Rolfe, Will Wright and Stuart Pearson at the back with Mason Spence and Ben Walster the wing backs. Liam Brooks returned up front to partner Robbie Burns with Callum Donnelly. Matt Lench and Lucas Kirkpatrick filling the central midfield positions.

While the game was no classic on a hard, dry and bumpy surface Hitchin gave their best defensive performance so far and thoroughly earned their clean sheet. Indeed Hitchin showed more attacking intent and had more shots at goal than Kettering.

Lench had three attempts before half time while Brooks also worked the goalkeeper. Kettering rarely threatened Johnson but Walster did make one brilliant last ditch tackle. Unfortunately Walster saw red in injury time as the referee penalised him for using his elbow. This seemed likely to put Hitchin on the back foot but Kettering were also reduced to 10 men after 53 minutes. Rene Howe was †sent off for raising his elbow as Mr Fryer stamped his presence on the game. He also booked three Kettering players but the game was never out of control.

Hitchin continued to play three at the back and again defended well. Johnsonís handling was impeccable throughout while it was good to see Pearson return as if he has never been away after a nightmare two years of injuries.

Burns forced Paul Walker to a good save from a free kick on the hour mark and Lench shot just over the bar soon after. Lench then struck a good free kick that Walker saved with his feet while a clever back heel from Kirkpatrick was cleared off the line. Kettering used all three substitutes but the Hitchin defence remained resolute and the home side created few clear cut chances. In the end both teams seemed happy with the point after midweek defeats and while the game will not live long in the memory Burke was content that Hitchin had shown they can be difficult to beat after two sloppy defensive performances against Cinderford and Hayes.

Lench in action at Kettering


Kettering Town -†Walker, Bateman, Langdon, Solkhon, Haran, Mulligan, Westwood, Howell, Howe, Weir-Daley, Brighton; Subs - Hicks for Howell 74, Smith for Weir-Daley 56, Stephens, Wilson for Westwood 59, Hill

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Wright, Walster, Lench, Pearson, Rolfe, Spence, C Donnelly, Brooks, Burns, Kirkpatrick; Subs - Coley, Barnes for Kirkpatrick 88, A Barker, McBride, Webb

Sent off: Kettering†- Howe, Hitchin -†Walster

Bookings: Kettering - Westwood, Langdon and Howell


Roy Izzard, photo by Peter Else

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