Hitchin Town 1 Royston Town 2


Southern League 2023-24

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
Royston Town
1 - 2
Final Score


Stone the Crows, Royston were back and in good shape, having recently inflicted a defeat on the Magpies of Coalville Town. The Hitchin manager has soberly called today’s encounter the A505 North Hertfordshire Derby. Well, that is a bit prosaic, so I am suggesting we call it the El Hertico.

The truth is that both clubs never seem to develop anything of a rivalry but watch the match together and bear no grudges. Nevertheless, the match had a degree of importance, as Hitchin were in need to restore themselves after the narrow defeat at Mickleover, who made it five wins from five. (They made it six out of six today). Last season the league fixture against Royston an attracted an attendance of almost 900 and along with the Bedford game it was the highest attendance for a match at Top Field. Today’s turnout was still good at 726. Looking at the League website there were some notable attendances, with Telford drawing in over 1700.

The kick-off was set back to 15.15 owing to the unavoidable late arrival of one of the officials, who was indeed a replacement. Included in the Royston team was our former player, and great favourite, Josh Coldicott-Stevens, who has settled in well with his new club and no doubt wanted to do well today. Hitchin were unchanged from Saturday.

Royston, who usually play in their aquamarine strip today elected to play in all purple. But, oh Lordy, I did not like the fluorescent yellow socks. The weather was set fair, with supporters on the open terracing bathed in sunshine.

Hitchin probed immediately with Bradley Bell keen to send in crosses. However, it was Alfie Williams of Royston who managed the first shot on target. These early exchanges suggested a game as tight as the last meeting. Then Eadie’s well-placed cross saw a fine goal from Bell and we had just played nine minutes. I suspected that this would open the game up.

However, it was Hitchin who kept up the pressure, forcing a corner with their next attack, which was quickly followed by another. Gouveia had a run .on goal and looked to score but for a defender’s outstretched leg. Gleeson’s smart pass enabled Idiakhoa to fire one in that was only just wide. There was a Hitchin free kick wide on the right, but the move fell short of danger.

Florian won a free kick, being fouled on the run and this was the first real chance for the Crows from a set piece. Williams’ cross was defended but a corner was awarded. This brought a neat header from Murray and Matt Bateman, with another header, bagged the equaliser after twenty-seven minutes. So, game on, as the commentators say, and a hope from home supporters that the team could move the defending up a notch from set pieces, so often our undoing.

Wilkinson was fouled, inviting another launch of the ball into the penalty area. Eadie obliged but it was carefully defended for a Hitchin corner. Tearle put in a decent cross, headed away, and another moment of excitement was deflated when the offside flag was raised. But this was the right kind of play. Gouveia had a chance in the area, but again clean defending denied him. Djada was booked for the heinous crime of kicking the ball away and this free kick supplied another chance but dealt with by Chadwick.

Bell’s cross saw Gleeson’s intended shot blocked and silky skills from Idiakhoa kept up the pressure and raised the noise levels in the Fishponds Road end.We were now entering time added on at the end of an entertaining half. Coldicott-Stevens saw his effort blocked and Crows’ supporters added their contribution with suitable encouragement. There was a late Royston free kick, and its clearance signalled the interval.

Hitchin had edged it, especially in attack where the front runners were eager and displayed a good deal of confidence. Royston had made the most of their limited opportunities and the game had a fine edge to it.

Gouveia seized the first chance of the second half, but a weak pass put aid to that. Djadja had been replaced by Sandford for the first Crows’ substitution. A shot from Royston drew a corner, followed by another., which Horlock tipped out for yet another, and I kid you not yet another. This came to nothing, but such moments of pressure are a little worrying.

Eadie’s cross was too high for Bell, and we needed that forward play to continue. Murray was cautioned and Bell shaped up or the fee kick, with Ron Henry providing the clearance. Toby Syme was booked following a mild later action and Murray’s headed effort was just too high. Hitchin brought on Cotter for Galliford thus ending the tendency of this player to score, somewhat habitually against Royston.

Bell tried another, which Chadwick held, and Cotter was needlessly booked for blocking the quick taking of a free kick. Lewis Barker replaced Steve Gleeson, who had performed well, but it was good to see LB back in the fray in the kind of encounter he relishes. Royston began to press and enjoyed some good possession. With an advantage played, the visitors really ought to have gone ahead but Sandford’s close-range shot was painfully wide. Hitchin needed to assert themselves, which was not proving easy. Then, from a free kick, Royston did go ahead, and Florian was the marksman after seventy-six minutes. Oh calamity. That was my score in the in-house prediction league out of the window again.

There was much to do. Akintunde replaced Bateman next, with the initiative firmly with the visitors, who, having come from behind had done their work well and some subtle time wasting was in evidence, with the referee pointing pantonimically at his watch. Sandford blasted his effort over the bar and in the next Hitchin attack was foiled with frustrating ease.

Horlock held the next Crows’ free kick and Gouveia’s intended shot was robustly blocked, setting up counter play. Bell set up a chance, again foiled and Chadwick put paid to a real threat from Gouveia. Time was against the Canaries who were harassed into errors. Tearle’s cross looked the business, but Chadwick held and then the Crows had a corner just as Georgiou came on for the parting shots.

A hopeful penalty shout for Royston was overturned but they had another corner and from a throw in Florian almost bagged a third for the visitors. Idiakhoa’s cross looked for Barker, but Chadwick was safe with his catch and then the whistle went to give Royston something to crow about and yes, they had won the El Hertico,but for us it was El Hurtico and it does hurt when you lose after taking the lead and being the better team….until the second half when like old soldiers, we did not die but just seemed to fade away.

Well, now we can concentrate on the Cup, to adjust a well-known phrase, and it is another Hertfordshire affair, when our victors are the Citizens, and that is to say Welwyn Garden City, who will not mind a bit being the nominal underdogs.

Charlie Horlock, captain, Bradley Bell, sponsors’ man of the match, GOAL, 9 minutes, (1-0), Layne Eadie, Toby Syme, cautioned, Ciaren Jones, Kye Tearle, (Stan Georgiou), Diogo Freitas Gouveia, Stephen Gleeson, (Lewis Barker), Isaac Galliford, (Kavan Cotter), Dan Idiakhoa, Finley Wilkinson. Substitutes not used – Dan Emovon, Chris Khoo.

Louis Chadwick, Dequane Wilson- Braithwaite, cautioned, Ange Djada, cautioned, (Gregory Sandiford), Josh Coldicott-Stevens, Adam Murray, cautioned, Ronnie Henry, Cain Keller, Alfie Williams, Tsagium Guimdo Florian, GOAL, 76 minutes, (2-1) Matthew Bateman, GOAL, 27 minutes, (1-1), ( Olu Akintunde,) Thomas Newman. Other substitutes- Mason Cook, Franco Ciuffa, Lewis Williams.

Referee Mr I Torz-Brown, assisted by Mr P Kwak and Mr T Burns.

Attendance 726



Competition Season
Southern League 2023-24