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Hitchin Town 4 St Ives Town 1

Saturday, October 22 2016

The first ever league encounter between these two sides saw Hitchin Town score an emphatic win at Top Field. The result maintained the Canaries' playoff push while other results saw the Saints fall into the drop zone. 

Hitchin had to shuffle the pack as Brett Donnelly was suspended and Stuart Pearson failed a fitness test. Will Wright and Callum Donnelly returned to the side, while the bench featured new arrival Conor Clarke. Kane Smith was pushed into midfield with Robbie Burns furthest forward. 

St Ives started with one ex-Canary - Harry O’Malley - in defence and two on the bench - Liam McDevitt and Justin Leavers.

The opening passages of play were even as Dubi Ogbonna and Ben Seymour-Shove ran at the Canaries’ defence while Lucas Kirkpatrick forced Tim Trebes to gather at the second attempt at the other end.

The Canaries broke the deadlock on 20 minutes after Callum Donnelly won a freekick. Smith’s delivery was met perfectly at the far post as Dan Webb rose above the defence to loop a header back over the keeper. 

Hitchin continued to pile on the pressure with Matt Lench in particular coming close on several occasions - Lee Chaffey blocked one effort and Trebes won a foul as the Hitchin number 11 challenged when the keeper fumbled a Ben Walster cross. Lench turned provider with a cross that Burns headed over before getting on the end of a fine move by Walster and Donnelly, although the St Ives’ defence bundled his effort away.

Hitchin had to make an early adjustment as Josh Bickerstaff replaced the injured Alasan Ann. However, St Ives struggled to impose themselves and they went further behind just before the interval. Walster’s corner fell to Wright who fired home through a crowded penalty area.

Half time - Hitchin Town 2 St Ives Town 0

Although the visitors, buoyed by a vocal contingent in the 413 crowd, made tactical changes after the interval, Hitchin still dominated. Lench again went close, first firing just over after St Ives lost possession and then going just wide after Burns held the ball up. 

St Ives had only an off-target shot from Jack Higgs to show for their efforts until Ogbonna pulled them back into the game on 64 minutes against the run of play. Following a foul by Lewis Rolfe, his sweetly struck free kick from outside the box gave Michael Johnson no chance in the Canaries' goal. 

Johnson was alert to stop Tom McGowan after the midfielder had got past Webb and advanced with the ball along the goal-line. However on 70 minutes, Hitchin restored the two goal margin with a well worked goal. Lench supplied Walster whose low cross from the left was back-heeled home by Burns. 

Burns then contributed another quality finish on 81 minutes as he met a Wright cross with a shot on the turn. 

With the game won, Mark Burke rang the changes and two of Hitchin’s substitutes nearly made it five on the whistle. James Verney set up Liam Brooks whose shot rattled the bar. However the result was still convincing although the Canaries may now face a tougher proposition away at The Walks on Tuesday night against Kings Lynn. 

Full time - Hitchin Town 4 St Ives Town 1

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Wright, Walster, Ann, Webb, Rolfe, Smith, C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick, Burns, Lench; subs - Bickerstaff (for Ann), Verney (for Burns), Brooks (for Donnelly), Coley, Clarke
St Ives Town - Trebes, O’Malley, Coulson, De’ath, Chaffey, Higgs, Dawkin, McGowan, Seymour-Shove, Ogbonna, Jarrold; subs - McDevitt, Sinclair (for Dawkin), Harradine (for McGowan), Leavers, Penfold (for Jarrold)

Hitchin Town - Webb (20), Wright (43), Burns (70, 81)
St Ives Town - Ogbonna (64)

Yellow Cards
Hitchin Town - Kirkpatrick
St Ives Town - Seymour-Shove, Ogbonna

Sponsors Man of the Match - Robbie Burns

Attendance - 413

Colin, photo by Peter Else

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