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Hitchin Town 3 Crystal Palace U18s 1

Saturday, July 30 2016

Hitchin Town kept up their pre-season form with an entertaining win against Crystal Palace's youngsters. A 3-1 win – the second in three days against a team of Eagles - was well earned after conceding an early goal against strong and quick opposition. 
 
After an early save by Colm McAdden from Robbie Burns, Palace took the lead on 11 minutes. From a Giovanni McGregor free-kick on the left, Francis Baptiste eluded the Hitchin defence and headed past Michael Johnson. 
 
At this point, Palace looked very threatening, with Joseph Hungbo's pace looking dangerous. He ran virtually the length of the pitch only for his final pass to find Baptiste in an offside position.  
 
Hitchin however demonstrated the same resilience that had been in evidence on many occasions last season. Liam Brooks – who had come close to scoring on a number of occasions in the previous match against Letchworth Garden City Eagles – ran at the visitors' defence and his deflected shot forced McAdden to turn it round for a corner. 
 
The first corner was forced away but Lucas Kirkpatrick's second was played to Burns on the corner of the area. His shot went into the crowded six yard box and Brooks turned it in for the equaliser on the half hour. 
 
Hitchin set about Palace with renewed intent. McAdden had to grab the ball off Dan Webb's head from a Burns free kick while Mason Spence headed just over from another Kirkpatrick corner. 
 
Callum Donnelly then took the spotlight - firstly for an animated "conversation" with Palace defender Lewis Bryan, but then by winning a corner after getting on the end of an inventive Ben Walster free kick down the flank. Will Wright headed the corner over at the back post. Hitchin took the lead on 41 minutes through a moment of Donnelly quality. He received the ball on the edge of the area, turned and made space to curl home a well placed shot 
 
HALF TIME Hitchin Town 2 Crystal Palace U18s 1  
 
Apart from a goal keeping switch with Zac Barrett taking over from Michael Johnson, there were no substitutions at half time – possibly looking at likely contenders for the starting eleven against Cinderford next Saturday? 
 
Palace looked to get back into the game and were assisted by two careless free kicks conceded on the edge of the Canaries' area. Hungbo curled the first free kick over the bar while Kian Flanagan could not beat the defensive wall on the second occasion. 
 
At the other end Hitchin were still threatening, with Brooks making a good run to set up Burns for a shot on goal. The same combination reversed roles on 54 minutes to extend Hitchin's lead. Burns' headed flick-on put Brooks through on the keeper. The forward beat McAdden's challenge and was able to slot home into the empty net. 
 
From this point the game was punctuated by both teams making all the available substitutions.  
 
For the Canaries, Wright made some good runs down the right side and tested the Palace keeper with two shots. At the other end, a Emmanuel Yeboah shot was deflected for a corner from which Baptiste headed over.  
 
Palace's substitutes tried to claw a goal back with Ozono having one shot deflected for a corner after a good run by Linton, and Ozono then winning another corner after his own run at the defence. However Hitchin's defence held firm to seal the win. They now have one more friendly against a Luton Town XI before the serious league business begins in a week. 

Callum gives the Canaries the lead!
 
FINAL SCORE Hitchin Town 3 Crystal Palace U18s 1 
 
Teams 
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Wright, Walster, S Barker, Webb, Rolfe, Spence, C Donnelly, Brooks, Burns, Kirkpatrick 
Substitutes – Barrett, Payne, Coley, Bickerstaff, Barnes, Pearson, B Donnelly, Mulholland, Riley, Bryant  
Goals – Brooks (31, 54), C Donnelly (41) 
Crystal Palace U18s – McAdden, King Elliot, Sturgess, McGregor, Lynch, Bryan, Hosannah, Flanagan, Fundi, Baptiste, Hungbo 
Substitutes – Webber, Linton, Oslai, Mitchell, Ozono, Denton, Williams, Kargbo, Okourongo, Yeboah 
Goal – Baptiste (11) 
 
Attendance - 208  
 
Colin, photo by Peter Else
 



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