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Hitchin Town 0 Biggleswade Town 1

Saturday, January 13 2018

Biggleswade Town won this local derby with more ease than the scoreline would suggest. In doing so, they completed the double over the Canaries and put a dent in Hitchin’s play-off hopes.

The Canaries made two changes from the eleven that began against AFC Rushden & Diamonds with Josh Bickerstaff and Robbie Burns being replaced by Charlie Smith and Lucas Kirkpatrick. Kevin Byrne made his league debut alongside Dan Webb in the centre of defence while Elliot Bailey played up front with Trey Charles and Jonny McNamara out wide. 

Charles mis-kicked as Bailey squared the ball and the number 9 had an effort deflected but the big talking point came on ten minutes. Hitchin had a penalty shout when McNamara’s shot bobbled in the six yard box and appeared to strike a hand. The referee - who seemed well placed himself - consulted his assistant and turned down the claim.

On 21 minutes, Bailey found himself clear on goal. McNamara was alongside but had been offside and the striker had to go it alone only for Sam Donkin to deny him from close range.

The visitors had already proved a threat to Hitchin’s makeshift back four, with Greg Kazaboni and Tony Burnett constantly running at the defence. Michael Johnson had to save from Kazaboni while Connor Hall had also headed wide from a free kick.

The solitary Waders goal on 25 minutes came straight from the training ground. Shane Hill played a free kick into the path of the overlapping Tony Burnett whose chipped cross was turned home by Connor Hall.

The goal provided a boost for the Waders as they continued to exert pressure against the stretched Canaries. Johnson saved again from Burnett while a Kazaboni effort was deflected away.

If the hope was that Hitchin would go up a gear after the break, that proved optimistic as Biggleswade continued to provide the greater threat. Hitchin’s search for an equaliser saw them taking risks at the back which offered the Waders the chance to counter on the break. Kazaboni and former Canary Liam Brooks both outran the defence. Byrne made two timely blocks while Johnson was forced into a string of saves from Kazaboni, Brooks and Robbie Parker to keep the score down. 

Mark Burke had thrown on all three substitutes with almost half an hour to play, but they struggled to create chances. A header from Brett Donnelly, a snapshot from Burns and Smith’s freekick brought comfortable saves from Donkin but that was as good as it got for the off colour Canaries. At the other end Biggleswade continued to try their luck but failed to extend their lead with Johnson denying substitutes Bowen and Penfold.
Whether the outcome would have been different if the penalty had been awarded is a moot point but Chris Nunn’s side now seem to relish their fixtures against the Canaries. In the meantime, Mark Burke’s men have a week for the injured players to recover before a tough trip to Stratford Town next Saturday.

Hitchin Town - Johnson, Syme, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Byrne, Kirkpatrick, Smith, Bailey, McNamara, Charles; subs - Donnelly (for McNamara), Burns (for Charles), Bickerstaff, Vincent (for Dowie), Rolfe
Biggleswade Town - Donkin, Patrick, Perry, Hall, Hicks, Hoyte, Kazaboni, Hill, Brooks, Parker, Burnett; subs - Penfold (for Burnett), Bailey, Paton, Daniel (for Hill), Bowen (for Brooks)

Biggleswade Town - Hall (25) 

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Attendance - 558

Colin, photo by Peter Else

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