Hitchin Town 1 Redditch United 1


Southern League 2021-22

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
Redditch United
1 - 1
Final Score


Well, a point is better than nothing and it was a point more than the UK at the last Eurovision Song Contest. But like the UK songsters, we remain bottom on goal difference in what was seen as a must win game. As it often happens our next home opponents are fellow strugglers Biggleswade Town whose survival in this division is in as desperate a plight as our own.

We remember the corresponding fixture that was close and Hitchin went down 1-2 at the Valley Stadium, and deserved a point. Tonight’s crucial fixture did not live up to expectations and a colourless first half produced just one shot each. Hitchin were just not on song until the second half, and it could be said in fairness that the opposition were marginally the better side.

The game began with the degree of urgency we hoped for, or expected, but what transpired was something of an aerial dog fight, with head tennis and a general inability to retain possession. Stanley Georgiou needs to be mentioned in despatches for an exuberant performance, despite being shifted to right back, since Jack Green was injured. Stephen Gleeson returned after suspension and Lewis Barker made a start.

Redditch, who could not fulfil the original date for this fixture owing to coronavirus elected to play in all pink, or, if you want to be posh, cerise.

What was noticeable and pleasantly so was the battling propensities of Barker and man of the match Ciaren Jones. Redditch matched the defensive qualities of the home side and both teams found it hard to fashion constructive moves.

Lewis Hudson played on the left with some urgency, with Horlock punching away one decent cross. Finding matters in midfield were inconclusive, both teams essayed the long pass to mediocre effect. Hitchin’s efforts here saw the ball lofted too close to the keeper. We longed to see Jake Hutchinson get maybe just one clear chance that he had at Coalville, but such chances were lacking. It was competitive but curiously lacking excitement.

Hitchin were painfully aware that maximum points tonight would raise both their position and hopes for survival but they played with defensive caution and did not give away free-kicks with their usual unintended generosity. Redditch have caused one or two upsets in their campaign, but they played this one with care.

When Hutchinson threatened he found a defender or the goalkeeper in the way, and Steve Cawley’s deft flicks were usually well interpreted, as were the Hitchin free-kicks. Style and panache were often circumvented by an attempt at the route one by the keepers, but still there was no breakthrough. A goal would, of course, set this game alight and it needed someone tonight the blue touch paper. The real fireworks did not occur until the second half, which granted our wish for it to be not as dull as the first period.

Redditch had a free-kick wide on the right, defended by Gleeson. Webb got in a header from a Hitchin free kick but it lacked accuracy. It was dull but somehow absorbing as we waited for an inspirational moment. A crack on goal was overdue for both teams, as we had played half an hour without a shot fired in anger. Once more a half chance saw Hutchinson on the chase but Kieran Boucher beat him to it again. A yard shorter and he would be in and then he did get in the first shot of the game that flashed wide of the far post. That had taken thirty-three minutes of prosaic play.

Redditch corners were generally good but well-defended. Georgiou was having a good game and it was he who made a difference some time later.

Redditch made an early substitution with Charlie Williams replacing Kieron Dawes. In the remaining minutes of this half the only moment of real significance was a shot from Redditch, coming from a long pass. Ryan Boothe sent it in well but it went wide. There was just a hint that Hitchin might have snaffled a goal before the interval but it was not to be, despite a good cross from Alex Brown.

It was seen as a little unsatisfactory from a Hitchin point of view, but there were no substitutions as yet, which was fair enough. It was a little bit like watching a film that was short of action, overburdened by dialogue, but it was a lot better than the first half. Lewis Hudson’s pulsating run on the left caused some alarm but it was defended. Lacking the purist’s devotion I was hoping that the stern defenders from Redditch might commit a blunder, but they were too wily for that. Word association inspired me to mention that we had a visit from Barton Rovers chairman Darren Whiley who announced in the board room that he had come all the way from Bartonshire to scrounge a cup of tea.

Then, oh frabjous day, calloo, callay, Hitchin seized the lead. There had been some good play on the right and the youthful determination of our Stanley showed admirable persistence in getting in a shot cross which Hutchinson headed in to great acclamation. It is pleasant to report that, whilst the scorer was mobbed Stanley received hugs of recognition for his vital part in this important goal. To paraphrase an old advert, it is the selection that made him excel, after one he did everything well.

The Hitchin bench ensured that they barked out orders for proper attention to duty and not to relax and squander that hard fought lead. They did, but, of course, not without a few nervous moments. The game had gone to fifty-six minutes and we would have been happy for an impossible early whistle.

What was the one thing needful was a second goal, and it nearly came with a shot from Hutchinson that the keeper kept out with his knee.

A fine pass from Gleeson reached Hutchinson was expertly defended, but Hitchin were up for it and over the hour mark we began to hope that we could defend adequately and get them on the break. Yes, Redditch were in the hunt for an equaliser. They did achieve this, heartbreakingly so, with seven minutes of normal time remaining. Honesty compels me to record that it was a goal worthy of the name, scored by substitute Daniel Sweeney. I recall that I had to admit the strike to one or two supporters who had gone to answer a call of nature and of course they were not best pleased.

It was disappointing as it seemed to me that the player ought not have been permitted to encroach so freely into our penalty area. A header from Malaki Black landed on the wrong side of the net, so to speak. I would have liked to have seen a nice set piece, which being partially defended allowed the winner to be placed with glee. It does happen but not so tonight. But Hitchin pushed, admirably so, but still had to defend when attacks broke down.

As I said earlier, a point was better than no points at all, and the team travels to Warwickshire on Saturday to take on Stratford Town in another bid for priceless points. The one home substitution was with Rio Dasilva replacing Steve Cawley, a good tactical move where Rio employed his pace and a fine shot that was painfully wide. How we had hoped that might have been the winning goal, as a win would have placed us two places higher.

From an objective point of view I feel that the visitors fully deserved the draw and the Hitchin performance, overall, though appealing in the second half was just short of bringing the triumph we ached for. Ben Stevens made a late substitution debut , with just stoppage time to go.

Charlie Horlock, Stanley Georgiou, mentioned in despatches, Alex Brown, Stephen Gleeson, cautioned, Daniel Webb, captain, Ciaren Jones, man of the match, Josh Coldicott-Stevens, Lewis Barker, Jacob Hutchinson, GOAL, 56 minutes, Stephen Cawley, (Rio Dasilva, 75), Malaki Black, (Ben Stevens, 90).

Unused substitutes- Kye Tearle, Josh Popoola, Johnny Allotey.

Kieran Boucher, Kieron Dawes, (Charlie Williams, 36), Lewis Hudson, Aram Soleman, Callum Flanagan, Ryan Woollcott, captain, Luke Rowe, Bernard Mensah Jnr, (Daniel Sweeney, 70 -GOAL, 83 minutes, ) Ryan Edmunds, Ryan Boothe, Jack Byrne, (Thomas Rankin, 80). Unused substitutes- Dennis Digle and Luke Cox.

Referee- Mr J Gibson, assisted by Mr M Paluszklwwicz and Mr S Parbery.

Attendance 302



Competition Season
Southern League 2021-22