Hitchin Town 0 Kettering Town 1


Southern League 2023-24

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
Kettering Town
0 - 1
Final Score


Today marked a third meeting with Kettering, and the first two and can bear some comment. We went to Kettering midweek in a league game and won handsomely 4-0, making it our best win, home or away. By chance we were drawn at home against them in the FA Cup on the following Saturday and we went down 1-0 and missed a trip to Chesterfield. We missed a lot more than that today.

The League table was revised in order to expunge the playing record of Nuneaton Borough, whose resignation marks their third entry into liquidation. We lost four points, from a 3-0 home win and a 2-2 away draw, but some clubs lost six points and it all seems like a punishment. It was kind to Kettering since it placed them just out of the relegation slots at the expense of AFC Sudbury.

Team news for Hitchin was of additional interest as it included veteran striker Nathan Frater, who was seen at Top Field recently, playing for Berkhamsted, and scoring against us as well. Apart from that, it would seem that the injury problem has eased slightly. Interestingly, the Kettering line-up contained three former Nuneaton players.

Would the home form improve was the big question, and when I mentioned that someone reminded me that the away form was not all that impressive.

The visitors began in a lively fashion, not allowing Hitchin any time on the ball and an early chance for Idiakhoa was entirely wasted. But another foray won a corner, and this saw a meek effort from Wilkinson, but Hitchin by now, had visibly settled. Then a clearance saw Kane Richards bearing down in the Hitchin goal with Horlock saving the initial effort and Eadie tidying up. Toseland tried one from range but was well off target, but the Poppies were looking dangerous and actually got the ball in the net, but this was disallowed. I was told this was for a foul on Horlock. It was hotly disputed by Kettering players and supporters.

Idiakhoa’s deflected shot allowed Frater a lob but it favoured Jezeph in the Kettering goal. It cannot be concealed that Kettering looked the stronger side and they harassed the Hitchin defence. Even a back pass to Horlock was short of the mark and conceded a corner.

Frater was able to send in a cross, aimed for Wilkinson who was unable to connect. There was a controversial moment when a Kettering man, Lewthwaite, was through on goal but fell to earth claiming to be tripped. The referee did not agree, and I think there may have been a booking for simulation. Needless to say, the Kettering supporters behind the goal expressed their general disagreement in the usual fashion.

Eadie headed away the latest corner but there was a goal, almost inevitably, and it was thumped home in the thirty-second minute by Daniel Jarvis. We could not complain at this since it was with the run of play, which continued, mostly in the Hitchin half. There had been no serious threat on the Kettering goal and ideas seemed at a premium.

Hitchin lurched uncertainly towards half time. There was a moment in a flank attack where Idiakhoa encroached, but his effort was stopped on the line. Much more of this was needed. Four minutes were added, and they proved a little painful, but Gleeson’s free kick fell to Frater whose pass to Wilkinson enabled him to get in a header, which was off target, but at least that was a goal attempt.

The interval provided plenty of conversation regarding the dismissed penalty and the disallowed goal, which were mostly Kettering grievances. Hitchin had the second half to do something about the blemished home form. They began by defending an immediate attack. At the other end Gleeson was halted on a run and took umbrage but the referee awarded no free kick.

Wilkinson broke free and his solo run ended in disappointment. A team effort at a flank attack was interrupted almost like routine and inaccuracies in passing added to the frustration. Kettering seemed to have a stranglehold in the midfield, absorbing everything and in a somewhat casual fashion.

The visitors seemed content to hold on to their lead and continue to spoil chances for Hitchin whose preponderance to play out from the back always seemed a retrograde move. A Gleeson free kick gave a glimmer of hope until the ball tricked out of play for a goal kick.

A fair Kettering move saw a poor miss by Forsyth but one had the feeling that they could afford such profligacy since their opponents were so ponderous as to be ineffective. Popoola’s run ended in dispossession and Cotter gave way to Snelus. Good work from Kane Richards deserved more but the former Nuneaton man could make no connection.

Then Tearle had a shot from range that Jezeph needed to tip over the bar. It would have been a remarkable goal. Hitchin made more substitutions with Blennerhassett and Bell coming on for Eadie and Frater, the latter making a frustrating return. Still there seemed no way through despite the lively and vociferous support of a number of Wolf Cubs who deserve a badge for their efforts. The team responded poorly with wasted efforts that resulted in goal kicks. Six additional minutes were pegged on to this dour affair and resulted in a caution or two, including the visiting keeper for, presumably, wasting time.

These minutes saw some curious backward passing and Degruchy was a whisker away from making it 2-0 to the visitors. Kettering move away from the relegation zone and that dreaded word was even used in relation to Hitchin who do need to secure points to stave off that threat.

Another home defeat, another poor performance was the outcome, and one wonders how we achieved that 4-0 away win at Kettering. It seems a long time since we saw a convincing performance, one fired by desire at least. Facing two unyielding banks of four, we needed to scamper along the flanks, as we used to do to goos effect with Eadie and Bell, but that seems to have been reduced lately.

It is a shame that another bumper attendance should be subjected to the prosaic efforts of our team who need to find some inspiration from somewhere and perhaps raise ourselves a place or two in the league table.

Charlie Horlock, captain, Josh Popoola, Layne Eadie, (Bradley Bell), Toby Syme, Man of the Match, Stanley Georgiou, Kye Tearle, Kavan Cotter, (Jack Snelus), Stephen Gleeson, Dan Idiakhoa, cautioned, Nathan Frater, cautioned, (Thomas Blennerhassett), Finley Wilkinson. Substitutes not used- Isaac Galliford, John Freeman.

Daniel Jezeph, cautioned, Harry Reilly, Ben Toseland, (Rhys Sharpe), Lewis White, Kane Richards, (Luca Miller), Tyrone Lewthwaite, cautioned, (Bruno Andrade), Jack Degruchy, Daniel Jarvis, GOAL, 32 minutes, 0-1, George Forsyth, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Thomas Scott. Substitutes not used- Kevin Langmead, Gedeon Okito.

Referee Mr M Fletcher, assisted by Mr D Lander and Mr M Whitworth.

Attendance 725



Competition Season
Southern League 2023-24