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Kings Lynn Town 1 Hitchin Town 2

Tuesday, October 25 2016

Hitchin’s match at King’s Lynn went from the sublime to the ridiculous as Mark Burke’s men stretched their unbeaten league run to 11 matches.

A stunning Ben Walster volley handed the Canaries an early lead before the hosts gifted Hitchin a second due to a blunder in their defence.

Town keeper Michael Johnson then gave away a penalty which Leon Mettam converted to make it an uneasy final 20 minutes for Burke’s side, but they held on for what was on reflection a fair result.

Josh Bickerstaff’s return in place of Alasan Ann was the only change to the starting XI from Saturday’s win over St Ives. Alongside Ann on the bench came Brett Donnelly, with Josh Coley making way.

Hitchin’s passing was slick and precise during a first half in which they had plenty of chances while limiting their hosts to rare sights of goal.

The Canaries had their first effort as early as the second minute, and it was a Teddy Sheringham-esque corner routine from the mid-1990s that the Canaries opted for. Lucas Kirkpatrick took the set piece on the right and rolled it to the edge of the box but Matt Lench’s shot lacked control and sailed over.

Walster followed up moments later with a low, driven free-kick from 30 yards which Alex Street turned away from goal, but there was nothing the keeper could do next.

Walster was the scorer, and boy was it a little bit special. As the ball dropped to him and with Street off his line, the full-back hit probably the sweetest volley he’s struck in his life over the goalkeeper and under the bar. It was a wonderful right-footed goal from the left-footed defender.

It wasn’t Match of the Day stunning, one which is teased as being top drawer only to disappoint upon viewing. This was the sort of goal that gets you off your seat, forces you to wipe a tear from your eye and heartily applaud until your hands start to hurt.

Moments later Hitchin went close again, but this time Street pulled off an outstanding stop when Robbie Burns diverted Callum Donnelly’s shot at goal and Street adjusted his feet to flick the ball off target.

Lee Stevenson then fired off target as Lynn tried to make a game of things before Burns headed over for Hitchin when he really should have scored.

Half Time: Kings Lynn Town 0 Hitchin Town 1

The home side made a couple of changes at the break with Toby Hilliard and Shaun McWilliams coming on for Danny Emmington and Kurtis Revan with manager Gary Setchell changing to a 3-5-2 formation.

This allowed the home side an extra body in midfield and they slowly turned the tide.
Mettam fell in the box under pressure from Lewis Rolfe and the home fans called for a penalty, but the referee thought otherwise.

Yet despite their endeavour early in the second period a huge blunder gave Hitchin some breathing space. Under no pressure out on the left, defender Dan Quigley played the ball back to Street who was unaware that Lench had made a 20 yard run towards him in case of an error. And as Street’s poor touch allowed the ball to run past him Lench slid in for his side’s second.

King’s Lynn were handed a lifeline when Johnson rushed off his line and brought down Mettam with 20 minutes to go. The Hitchin keeper was booked, and Michael Clunan halved the deficit.

There was a renewed belief for the hosts who were no longer tainted by Street’s mistake but buoyed by Clunan’s spot kick. Lee Stevenson blasted a free-kick goalwards but it hit one of his players and rolled wide. The same player then volleyed off target at the back post before Mettam headed wide from a Sam Warburton cross.

Hitchin responded by bringing on Brett Donnelly up front for Callum Donnelly, and the strong striker forced a save out of Street moments after his introduction.

McWilliams then tricked his way past two players in one final throw of the dice for the hosts, but as the shot came in and Stevenson and Mettam both lurked on the goal-line, Johnson grabbed the ball ahead of them and Hitchin held on for a deserved win.

Full Time: Kings Lynn Town 1 Hitchin Town 2


King’s Lynn Town: Alex Street, Danny Emmington (Toby Hilliard 46), Jordan Yong, Sam Gaughran, Dan Quigley, Sam Warburton, Michael Clunan, Lee Stevenson, Jacek Zielonka, Leon Mettam, Kurtis Revan (Shaun McWilliams 46).
Subs not used: Eoin McQuaid, Dylan Edge, Luke Pearson.
Hitchin Town: Michael Johnson, Will Wright, Ben Walster, Josh Bickerstaff, Dan Webb, Lewis Rolfe (Conor Clarke 87), Kane Smith, Callum Donnelly (Brett Donnelly 83), Lucas Kirkpatrick, Robbie Burns, Matt Lench.
Subs: Alasan Ann, James Verney, Liam Brooks.
King’s Lynn Town
: Emmington 23 mins, Gaughran 28 mins, Quigley 78 mins.
Hitchin Town: Johnson 71 mins.
King’s Lynn Town: Clunan 72 mins.
Hitchin Town: Walster 9 mins. Lench 59 mins.
Attendance: 463

Damion Roberts

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