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Hitchin Town 5 Frome Town 1

Saturday, April 7 2018

If ever the Canaries were going to overturn their poor record at home to Frome Town - two defeats and two draws - today was the day.

Frome have had a bad week and were reeling from the departure of manager Josh Jeffries and senior players. Their threadbare squad saw acting boss Sam Teale also serving as the only substitute. After resisting until after the half hour, from the moment Trey Charles scored there was only one winner.

Hitchin, with Brett Donnelly starting his suspension, shuffled the pack with Dan Webb, Ben Walster, Josh Bickerstaff and Trey Charles starting the match. Robbie Burns also returned to the bench after his recent injury. 

Patrick Tshikala and Charlie Smith were influential as Hitchin started purposefully. The young number 10 created a chance for Connor Vincent that was cleared off the line before linking up with Smith and hitting  the underside of the bar within the first ten minutes.

Keeper Carl Crabtree twice denied Vincent - although the second effort came after the offside flag had gone up but Matt Spring brought the best out of the keeper who had to palm away a fierce shot, with Ollie Knowles tidying up. 

Josh Bickerstaff failed to capitalise on a pinpoint Kevin Byrne cross, heading wide when well-placed but the Frome resistance was broken on 36 minutes. It was Tshikala who set up the opener as he drew Crabtree out wide on the left and allowed Charlie Smith to set up Trey Charles for his first goal of 2018.

Hitchin pushed on to double their lead but there was no second goal before the break. However the floodgates opened on 46 minutes. Connor Roberts - who started the season in Canary colours - turned the ball into his own net and it became one-way traffic.

Frome forced Michael Johnson into a rare save but Hitchin went straight down the other end to increase the lead. Good work again by Tshikala set up Charles for a close range finish on 51 minutes. Seven minutes later Connor Vincent added a fourth when his shot from the edge of the area was fumbled into the net by Crabtree, who failed to get his body behind the ball. 

Frome had spells of possession but very little end product and it was left to substitute Hugo Logan to add Hitchin’s fifth as he latched onto Byrne's pass, skipped into the Frome area, and resisted the temptation to go down for a penalty before slotting home.

Ben Withey’s teasing cross forced Johnson to push the ball away for a corner, while Ryan Bath - who had worked hard all match - nodded wide from a Frome free kick. The Robins did get some stoppage time consolation as Bath set up Josh Brace though the sheen was taken off even that as Ollie Knights then picked up a second yellow card for an innocuous handball.

Hitchin consolidated their tenth place position, four points ahead of Basingstoke and with a game in hand. However next comes a more testing task against champions-elect Hereford on Monday evening. 

Teams
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Byrne, Walster, Rolfe, Webb, Bickerstaff, Charles, Spring, Vincent, Tshikala, Smith; subs - McNamara (Charles), Syme, Logan (Smith), Burns (Spring), Green 
Frome Town - Crabtree, Withey, Knights, Roberts, Knowles, Hemmings, Brace, Miller, Page, Raynes, Bath; sub - Teale

Goals
Hitchin Town - Charles (36, 51), Roberts OG (46), Vincent (58), Logan (75)
Frome Town - Brace (90)

Yellow cards 
Hitchin Town - 
Frome Town - Knights

Red card
Frome Town - Knights

Sponsors MOTM - Josh Bickerstaff

Attendance - 317

Colin, photo by Peter Else