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Redditch United 1 Hitchin Town 2

Saturday, March 18 2017

Hitchin gained a much needed three points at Redditch as they maintained their unbeaten record on artificial surfaces following a win at Slough and a draw at Merthyr.

Manager Mark Burke was delighted with the performance. He said "I thought we played really well and produced good attractive football. We created a number of chances particularly in the first half and we deserved our half time lead. I was pleased that after the equaliser we got back in control of the game and as so often this season scored a late winner. It was very important to get back to winning ways and maintain our play off position".

The team news was mixed with Lewis Rolfe unavailable and Callum Donnelly and Josh Bickerstaff injured with Matt Spring playing for Hemel Hempstead. But Matt Lench and Ben Walster were back and replaced Mason Spence and Conor Clarke respectively with Jonny McNamara  starting instead of Donnelly as Hitchin played a 4-2-3-1 formation.

From the start Hitchin dominated possession with Redditch rarely offering any threat. Walster had two early free kicks that nearly led to goals. Kane Smith shot just over the bar and a good move saw Robbie Burns thwarted by keeper Bradley Catlow who had a busy afternoon.

A Lucas Kirkpatrick corner was desperately cleared and Catlow again saved from Burns as Hitchin turned the screw. Michael Johnson was not called in to action as Hitchin remained in the ascendancy and the breakthrough seemed to be inevitable. Burns hooked a shot over the bar while Dan Webb’s header lacked power but after 40 minutes came the goal that Hitchin had so richly deserved. It was excellent work from McNamara that saw him produce a perfect cross to the far post from a tight position  which an unmarked Brett Donnelly headed home. Smith nearly doubled the lead with half time approaching but Hitchin had to be content with a one goal lead.

Johnson was called in to action on the hour mark as he saved from Luke Keen but Hitchin appeared to be comfortable. Donnelly forced another save from Catlow and Redditch used all three substitutes to try and change the pattern of the game. Their equaliser came from their best player and Dior Angus produced a brilliant individual goal after 68 minutes. This was a shock to Hitchin and came out of the blue. But as so often this season the team keep going and in the 78th minute regained the lead. Walster produced a good free kick that Will Wright flicked on and skipper Webb steered the ball in at the far post to further enhance his goal scoring record.

Hitchin had few further alarms and held on for a vital victory. With Banbury now pushing hard there are five teams going for four play off positions so Hitchin need to maintain this level of performance as they face a challenging run in. But after the recent blip in form this was encouraging and in Jay Dowie Hitchin would seem to have acquired a very accomplished player. With players still to return the squad has the depth to cope with the challenges ahead.

Redditch - Catlow, Jones, Dhillon, Loveridge, Brown, Cullinane-Liburd, Angus, Courtney, Keen, Benjamin, Fernandes-Mendes; Subs - Mahmood  for Benjamin 70, Campbell, Mitchell for Dhillon 63, Bailey-Nicholls for Fernandes-Mendes 59, Hussain.
Hitchin - Johnson, Smith, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Wright, McNamara, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns, Lench; Subs - Spence, Bennett, Brooks for Donnelly 84, Clarke, Ann.

Redditch - Angus 68
Hitchin - B Donnelly 40, Webb 78

Redditch - Dhillon, Keen and Benjamin
Hitchin - Kirkpatrick

Attendance 258

Roy Izzard, photo Peter Else

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