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Farnborough 4 Hitchin Town 1

Saturday, October 14 2017

Farnborough leapfrogged Hitchin Town in the league table after ending their run of poor results. They were assisted by a Canaries performance that started well but fell away badly as they shipped four goals.

Hitchin were still missing Dan Webb and Callum Donnelly and were further hindered when Jay Dowie picked up an ankle injury during the pre-match warmup. Jack Green was drafted into the starting eleven, with Brett Donnelly and Connor Vincent supported by Elliot Bailey in attack and Jonny McNamara on the bench.

The early phases of the game were even as Hitchin looked to take advantage of the hosts' recent poor run although this was a Farnborough side with 4 changes from its previous defeat. Nic Ciardini set up Jamie Cureton whose shot was easily gathered by Michael Johnson, while a Bailey effort was deflected just wide at the other end.

Hitchin came close from a corner as Bailey fired over the cross bar but they did open the scoring on 22 minutes from another set piece. From Ben Walster's corner to the near angle of the box, Charlie Smith mis-kicked and the ball ran across the area to Donnelly who was waiting at the far post. He turned it home for his 4th goal of the season.

The Canaries came close to a second goal as Smith capped good approach play with an angled shot which was turned in by Bailey. However the offside flag meant it was chalked off. Vincent also headed wide from a Kavan Cotter cross.

Farnborough got back into the game on 32 minutes with a "Route One" strike. Matt Cafer launched the ball forward and it ball looped over Bickerstaff who was chasing back with Cureton. Once the ball had bounced, Reece Coles had lost his marker and got into position to lob the ball over the advancing Michael Johnson.

Six minutes later, the hosts again pulled the Hitchin defence apart, this time down their left side. Ciardini got round Rolfe and pulled the ball back for Cureton to turn and slot home from close range.

Shortly before the break Donnelly was penalised for a foul on his marker. While helping up the Farnborough player, Glen Southam intervened and was lucky not to get a yellow card.

At half time, the game was still in the balance and the next goal would be critical. This was incidentally the first time this season that Farnborough had achieved a half time lead. Unfortunately in the second period, Hitchin did not look likely to score that goal. Kieron Forbes went wide from distance before Johnson then pulled off a fine save to deny Ciardini from a freekick after Coles and Cureton combined to drawn a foul from Bickerstaff.

Southam continued in the thick of things for Farnborough, forcing a save from Johnson with a long range effort while Hitchin were grateful to Lucas Kirkpatrick who had to clear off his line following another corner. 

However the vital goal did arrive on 63 minutes and it fell to the hosts. Green lost the ball on the halfway line to Keith Emmerson who exchanged passes with Cureton before firing a fierce shot past Johnson from some 25 yards out.

Three minutes later the Hitchin defence were at sea as Farnborough broke from a Canary corner. Johnson pushed away Cureton's first effort but Southam was on hand to put away the rebound and make it four.

Cureton could have added a fifth for the hosts as he got between two defenders but his chipped shot came back off the woodwork. Hitchin had chances for a consolation as Kirkpatrick forced a juggling save from Cafer while Donnelly also went close. Kirkpatrick and Southam both went in the book as the game moved into stoppage time with the home player appearing to get off lightly again for having his hands on Kirkpatrick's neck!

However that is not to deny that Farnborough deserved their win as Hitchin were overrun at the back and, once their first two goals had gone in, struggled to offer a response. Hitchin need to prove on Monday against Redditch that this was a collective "bad day at the office".  

Farnborough - Cafer, Hammond, Fearn, Everitt, Emmerson, Huggins, Southam, Forbes, Cureton, Coles, Ciardini; subs - Willock (for Cureton), Calcutt, Barton (for Forbes), Anyan (for Ciardini), Upward
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, Smith, Donnelly, Bailey, Vincent, Green; subs - McNamara (for Vincent), Bennett, Charles (for Bailey), Webb    
Farnborough - Coles (32), Cureton (38), Emmerson (63), Southam (66)
Hitchin Town - Donnelly (22) 

Yellow cards
Farnborough - Southam
Hitchin Town - Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, Walster

Attendance - 232

Colin, photo Peter Else

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