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Hitchin Town 4 Dagenham & Redbridge 6

Thursday, November 2 2017

Hitchin Town exited the FA Youth Cup but only after a see-saw match that saw Dagenham & Redbridge come through 6-4 despite being reduced to ten men. After a 3rd qualifying round win against Hoddesdon that had been punctuated by firework displays outside Top Field, on this occasion the fireworks were on the field. 

The visitors get off to a flying start on 2 minutes when a cross from the right by James Turvey was nodded home at the far post by Luke Hirst. However the Canaries bounced back straight away. One minute later, Hitchin were level as Desejado Da Silva headed home a Reuban Kester corner!

Da Silva's first

David Agboola headed over for the visitors while Hitchin's attacks were snuffed out by a robust Daggers defence, with Kieran Hamilton and Alfie Cooper both being stopped illegally in their tracks.

It was Dagenham & Redbridge who broke the deadlock on 18 minutes when Lanrewaju Balogun and Dylan Florence combined to break through the Canaries' defence for the latter to hit home a rising drive to restore the lead.

Hitchin responded quickly as Da Silva and David Agboola battled for the ball. The striker converted but the whistle had already gone for an infringement. However the Daggers posed more questions with a David Agboola shot being blocked, and Balogun and Michael Agboola off target.

The Canaries levelled though on 37 minutes as Charlie Moss broke down the right. He cut the ball back and Hamilton and a defender challenged before the ball went in the net. The goal was given to the Hitchin striker although there was a claim that it was an own goal.

There were chances at both ends but it was Dagenham who went in at the break with the lead. A combination between Ryan Wing and Alfie Cooper broke down on the flank and the Daggers broke through with a cross that was finally poked home by Balogun to give them a 3-2 lead after a breathless first half.

Half time - Hitchin Town 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 3

Florence fired over for Dagenham after the break, failing to capitalise on a good run, but the next incident was at the other end and offered Hitchin a golden chace to take control of the game. On 51 minutes, keeper Tarek Najia was hurried into a clearance. It fell to the advancing Da Silva who was alongside David Agboola.  The defender halted Da Silva's run and the ref adjudged it was a foul and Agboola the final man, awarding a red card. Da Silva then reinforced the punishment as his free kick beat Najia - via a deflection - to level again.

Parity was short as on 55 minutes Florence got between two Canary defenders and went down in the box. The referee awarded a spot kick and Florence himself fired low into the corner.

Hitchin had chances to level as they broke only for Hamilton to shoot rather than square to his advancing teammates, before Da Silva curled a shot just wide after picking up an excellent pass down the line from Spavins. A deserved leveller did arrive on 68 minutes though as Moss cut in from the left and his shot, although lacking power, crept in at the near post.

Moss again went close from a Kester free kick but the visitors were coping very well with their numerical disadvantage. They appeared to grow in strength and were making better use of the ball than the Canaries. Balogun forced Hayden Everson into a clearance off the line and skipper Josh Mollinson then had to pull off two saves to keep the Daggers at bay. 

Unfortunately the tide had turned and from the corner following the second save, Hirst claimed his second with a header to restore Dagenham's lead on 78 minutes. Four minutes later the game was sealed as the Canaries lost possession as they tried to play out from the back. Balogun was still some distance from goal but kept his composure and neatly lobbed Mollison. 

Hitchin gamely pushed forward to claw back a goal and Da Silva was only prevented by a well timed late tackle. Kieran Hamilton also fired wide and a last gasp claim for a penalty was denied.

However there was no twist in the tail of this topsy turvy match and the young Canaries cup dream had reached an end. However this was a performance and an FA Youth Cup run to be proud of and there is lots of promise for the future in this squad, which will hopefully serve the club well.

Full time - Hitchin Town 4 Dagenham & Redbridge 6

The Youth Team

Hitchin Town - Mollison, Andrews, Cooper, Spavins, Castle, Evanson, Wing, Kester, Da Silva, Moss, Hamilton; subs - Wayling (for Kester), Bobinski, Edwards, Turkan (Wing), Thorby, Hayward, Abrahams
Dagenham & Redbridge - Najia, Holmes, Alici, M Agboola, Lee, D Agboola, Turvey, Florence, Balogun, Gallagher, Hirst; subs - Hyde, Salis (Florence), Bonds, Chapman

Hitchin Town - Da Silva (3, 51), Hamilton (37), Moss (68)
Dagenham & Redbridge - Hirst (2, 78), Florence (18, 55 pen), Balogun (43, 82)

Red card

Dagenham & Redbridge - D Agboola

Attendance - 254

Colin, photos Peter Else

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