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Kings Langley 1 Hitchin Town 2

Tuesday, October 11 2016

Kings Langley have had a meteoric rise up the football pyramid. In 2013-14 they were in the Spartan South Midland League Division 1 and after finishing runners up went on to win the Premier Division the following season. Then in 2015-16 they won the Southern League Central Division to make an unlikely step up to the Premier Division. This was Hitchinís first visit to Kings Langley and they knew a stern test awaited them as their hosts were in 8th position and had won four and drawn one of their last six league games. Hitchin responded to the situation with one of their best performances of the season and manager Mark Burke felt it was a performance that came closest to replicating last seasonís levels so far this season.

Burke had selection dilemmas with Lewis Rolfe free from suspension and Sam Barker back from his holiday but he opted to stay with Saturdayís starting eleven with Rolfe and Barker on the bench. This meant Hitchin continued with the three centre backs and two wing backs and the formation worked exceptionally well. It was a really hard working display by Hitchin and they were quick to close down their opponents all evening and at the same time some excellent football was played against a Kings Langley side that played their part in a very entertaining game. Referee Andreas Anastasiou turned in a performance that restored faith in the ability of officials at this level. †

Josh Hutchinson shot wide for Kings Langley before Robbie Burns attempted a chip over goalkeeper Danny Boness after a poor back pass. Hitchin were getting control of the game and Alasan Ann powered a header that went just beyond the post while Ben Walster had a fierce shot blocked by a defender. The pressure was building and a goal eventually came after 26 minutes. It followed a sparkling run and cross from Kane Smith that was finished very cleverly by Burns. Brett Donnelly came close with a header while Ann's ferocious free kick just missed the target. The only Kings Langley reply was a header from Hutchinson that hit the bar.

The second goal came just three minutes in to the second half. Lucas Kirkpatrick delivered a very good corner that Ann headed on for Donnelly to provide the finish. Hitchin produced a couple of excellent passing moves but the third goal would not come. Kings Langley never gave up and the dangerous Emmanuel Folarin shot just wide. Hitchin replaced Donnelly with Barker but conceded a goal after 87 minutes. It was a good goal as Folarin delivered an inviting cross that Hutchinson headed home. Despite four minutes of extra time Hitchin held on comfortably to gain a well deserved three points.

So Hitchin are back up to 5th in the league table and it is pleasing to see performance levels improving after a disjointed start to the season that was hampered by so many absentees from the squad. Competition for places is now fierce and if a player misses a game he now knows it will be very difficult to get back in the side and this is exactly what the manager wanted to happen. It was an excellent team performance at Kings Langley and there is cause for optimism although nobody is getting carried away and many difficult fixtures lie ahead.

Kings Langley - Boness, Ward, C Toomey, Folarin, Anthony, Johnson, Hitchcock,ten- Grotenhuis, Hutchinson, Hope, Duku;†Subs - Nyama (for Hitchcock), Kipeya, Waldren, Calvin (for ten-Grotenhuis HT)

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Smith, Walster, Wright, Webb, Pearson, Ann, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns, Lench; Subs - Rolfe, Varney, Coley (for Burns 90+2), Barker (for Donnelly 79), Barnes.

Kings Langley - Hutchinson 87

Hitchin Town - Burns 26, B Donnelly 48

Bookings †None

Attendance 161

Roy Izzard

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