Hitchin Town 1 Bromsgrove Sporting 2


Southern League 2023-24

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
Bromsgrove Sporting
1 - 2
Final Score


After the rain, the sterling work by our ground staff, the sun put his hat on and so we could come out to play, and the need was to play well. The competent performance at Coalville showed we could improve, and we came very close to a point in that game.

The optimism was in place, but our recent form still made poor reading, and must be one of the poorest set of adverse results in our history. The team was without the services of Dan Idiakhoa who, a little surprisingly, perhaps, has decided to join AFC Dunstable, and scored in their 6-2 away win at Waltham Abbey.

Sporting began well with early pressure and had a free kick just outside the area in the very first minute, which Horlock was able to tip over the bar, but Rowe’s effort was commendable.

But at the other end there was a typical shot from Jack Snelus that needed a good save from Oliver Taylor. Some scrappy play following this led to a couple of bookings for Sporting which seemed out of keeping with the general tone that had been open and free.

Toby Syme made a couple of important interceptions as the pace of Pais was becoming apparent. Kpapke was doing good things on the left where it seemed our attacking options were based. An elaborate preparatory move was ended with a poor final pass, but Hitchin were keeping possession well.

Derricott’s inspired solo run yielded a corner for Sporting and the shot that emanated brought another with Horlock commanding the defending. A free kick for the visitors saw our referee engaged in a good deal of dialogue before this could be taken. Lynch cleared the free kick, but there was another corner, and yet one more from two blocked shots. Horlock held and that bit of severe pressure was relieved, but not without a sense of discomfort.

There seemed a lack of sharpness up front for Hitchin, and the preparatory play was still a little ponderous. A free kick in an inviting area was awarded for Sporting, faced by a wall of three and the shot was thankfully just wide.

A Hitchin counter move was pushed back into their own half, but play was solid, if not penetrating to good effect as yet. It had been an even half for the most part but Snelus’ effort was the only direct shot mustered by those in yellow.

Other moves were easily read and dealt with, and a shot aiming near the foot of the post can go down as a reasonable Hitchin effort. Gleeson stopped a counter move at some expense to himself and the referee held forth, booking Pais for a second time so that meant that Hitchin would be superior numerically if nothing else. There was little protest concerning this dismissal from Bromsgrove players and we stumbled onto the interval, which had been somewhat delayed. At first, I thought the second yellow for Pais was a little harsh, but the referee told me afterwards that the challenge was far too high and caught Gleeson in the ribs. The interval brought forth some forthright opinions on refereeing decisions, with the bulk of the criticism coming from visiting officials. This referee was as busy as he was when he last refereed us at Royston.

Then, as frequently happens, a goal is conceded, simple goal from a first attack, and Hitchin were caught cold. A simple punt upfield, a simple connection for Keane Cooper and an effortless conversion. One nil to the ten men, and it might have mollified Sporting officials who, as I have mentioned, at half time were less than flattering about the referee’ s decisions hitherto. We were barely two minutes into the second period. It seems inexcusable that the Hitchin team should lack the focus required at the start of the second period. They had managed to get themselves into a fair position and could have ground the opposition down in the latter stages and secured the goals to win the game and stop this painful haunting of defeats, home and away.

Lynch won a corner which led to a suggestion of aggressive play but all it yielded as a goal kick. Kpapke was showing positive skills as he tried to drive his colleagues forward. Lynch was probing and Wilkinson had replaced Bell.

Galliford’s intended shot was blocked and offside decisions aggravated. Sporting looked like they were going to defend their smartly taken lead. Again, Kpapke was the driving force when those around him seemed a little nonplussed. Gleeson put in a cross that Snelus took advantage of it, but the effort was just kept out. Ciaren Jones had a shot saved but Snelus followed up and there was the equaliser, scored with typical emphasis. That bit of intense pressure in the final third had paid dividends but more was needed to win this match.

The visitors had done well, being a man down, but their tactics were adjusted, and I will say here that we owe much to Kpapke, in one alarming incident for just keeping the ball out of the net at the foot of the post, following some defensive fumbling. Better was a long diagonal ball to Snelus saw a Hitchin corner, with Taylor saving a tame header.

Popoola’s rash error then led to a penalty award for Sporting and Nathan Blissett calmly put his side ahead. We had played seventy- four minutes, and we wondered if we would suffer the indignity of losing against ten men.

Popoola put one over the bar following a fair attempt on goal. Bromsgrove defended stoutly with a little bit of gamesmanship in the penalty area to slow things down. Hitchin’s apparent lack of confidence was a factor.

The direct route was effectively blocked, and we seemed ineffective now on the flanks. One hoped for a set piece, and that was a hope in vain.

Time was artfully wasted, of course and spoiling moves were in evidence. Effort was there in abundance from Hitchin, but silky connections were missing. Kpapke sent in a cross that Gleeson ballooned. It was like a summing up.

Further efforts were in evidence, but these favoured the defenders.

Bromsgrove held out without real difficulty, and it may be said that they deserved the points for their sensible game management. I wonder though, if they had not secured the penalty whether they would have scored again, but that is merely academic. The sad fact is that Hitchin lost yet again.

I have often wondered how the supporters of Woodford United felt, who, in the Southern League Division One Central once famously lost every single one of their forty-two league matches. Well, we are some distance away from that melancholy fact, but our miserable run of defeats has given us some idea of the gloom associated with such an unwanted statistic.

Reasons may be many but as I trundled to the exit, I heard more than once the comment that we were simply not good enough. It is somewhat contradictory but look back to Christmas and I think we occupied second spot for as while and were considered possible play-off contestants. Have all our opponents improved so drastically and have we lost our skills and drive?

Whatever it is, it makes our visit to Sudbury all the more vital and who would have thought this game might be seen as a relegation clash? Kettering and Sudbury are still below us, but safety, though probable, is not entirely guaranteed.

What should be guaranteed is a total commitment to completing the season with some degree of dignity. There are some challenging matches that ought to yield some points and a halt to our downward slide. We all have to play our part.

Charlie Horlock, captain, Bradley Bell, (Finley Wilkinson), Alex Kpapke, this reporter’s man of the match, Toby Syme, (Joshua Popoola), Ciaren Jones, Jack Bateson, Stan Georgiou, cautioned, Stephen Gleeson, Oliver Lynch, Isaac Galliford, (Kye Tearle), Jack Snelus GOAL, 1-1, 64 minutes.

Substitutes not used – Layne Eadie, Kavan Cotter.

Oliver Taylor, Mark Derricott, Finn Howell, cautioned, Luke Rowe, captain, cautioned, Aaron Roberts, David Solademi, Tyler Bruck, (Billy Shaw), Peter Abimbola, Nathan Blissett, PENALTY GOAL, 74 MINUTES 1-2, Keanu Cooper, GOAL, 47, 0-1, (Jack Newell), Miro Pais, dismissed for two cautions.

Substitutes not used – Aksum White, Ayomide Lekuti.

Referee – Mr M Stetakovic, assisted by Mr D Jones and Mr M Bright.

Attendance 611



Competition Season
Southern League 2023-24