Barton Rovers 2 Hitchin Town 0


Friendly 2021-22

Sharpenhoe Road

Barton Rovers
Hitchin Town
2 - 0
Final Score


Barton manager Tony Fontanelle said before the game that he was ‘overdue the rub of the green’. He alluded, among other games to the last time Barton played Hitchin, in the FA Cup and Barton had a goal wrongly adjudged to be off-side and then conceded the only goal of the game to what the camera clearly showed to be a handball. It may be history but, for them it still hurts. ‘Yella got the rub of the green today, but I daresay he would prefer it to happen in a more important match.

Today was just a pre-season game, and, given the different status of the teams, it could reasonably expected that Hitchin would win. The last outing against an initially strong Beaconsfield Town revealed a good deal of character and determination in the team that was curiously lacking today, and indeed they made a present of the first goal with a defensive howler after only three and a half minutes.

Ben Walster took on the captain’s armband, as Dan Webb was on holiday and Delsin Ackon was placed at right back owing to an injury to Dan Akubuine. I did not have any details of the Barton line-up but recognised Nathan Frater, who has played for both the Dunstable teams.

This rub of the green I mentioned might have gone the wrong way for Yella in the very first minute when Rovers could well have conceded an own goal with a wayward pass close to the goal line, but this was then cleared. The at the other end we saw a misunderstanding from Horlock who lost possession of the ball and allowed a tap in from Regis. Thus Hitchin conceded a goal that could and should have been avoided. Even so, I let fall the generous thought that this might make the game a bit more competitive, with Hitchin overcoming the brave challenge of the lower placed team. I should cocoa.

It was competitive, as Barton chairman Darren Whiley said, adding that Hitchin really lost in in the eighteen yard area, since every time a ball was sent in, a Barton defender sent it out again. This was not the Hitchin town I have seen in the last three games, scoring twelve and conceding none. This was a diffident performance replete with avoidable errors, with poor service to the front runners and passes that had a poor rate of accuracy.

The Canaries, playing in their magenta and black strip did not really get going until the second half but found it difficult to penetrate the Rovers’ defence. The home side will see it as a bit of a boost since they reported a bit of a tonking in a friendly against Harefield United, where they scored a couple of good goals but unfortunately conceded eight. Such are the vagaries of pre-season games.

We waited for Hitchin to get going, to get that goal back – thinking it would be like waiting for a bus – you wait patiently then three come along in quick succession. Not so today. Barton did not park the bus – they did not have to, they enjoyed the greater creativity and movement on the ball.

There was some good work by alex Marsh on the right, and his cross forced a corner – a novel one along the floor and inviting an accurate punt. Luke Brown obliged and it was on target and the Rovers’ keeper was on his mettle, with a fine save. Rovers shook off this bit of pressure and applied their own to good effect and with a patient move and a thoughtful pass, their number four rifled home and it was 2-0 after just twelve minutes. There was no denying that this was a well-executed goal, which eliminates all the talk about the gifting of the first one.

We still waited for Hitchin to shake of their lethargy, and I suggested that they were suffering fatigue from their long journey from Hitchin, a joke that did not go down like a fat kid on a see-saw. They are just going through the motions suggested someone else – not so, they just fell victim to a team that, on the day, performed better than they did. Callum Stead grew impatient for some decent service and then retreated to midfield to see if he could get the ball and do all the work himself. Luke Brown was like a piece of fruit that is not yet ripened – but he did show with his play and eye for goal that he will soon be among the scorers again. Kye Tearle managed a shot on the run after receiving a pass from the right – it was over the bar, but more like that we wanted to see. This fluidity of movement was largely lacking, and there was no evidence of cunning creativity that had successfully poached goals in recent games.

Too many passes were intercepted or fell short. Whe a player decided to have a go, expectancy rose, but Alex Brown was just one who decided to have a crack on goal saw his shot effectively blocked. Marsh’s cross saw Stead glance in a header that lacked pace. Stead, on a run was stopped illegitimately and Walster’s free-kick was well on target but it brought another save from the able home keeper. Walster was the man on the line to head away what would have been another goal from Barton, when Horlock had committed himself and left what he thought was an unguarded net.

At the other end there was good control by Stead, but he just could not get his shot away – he then sent in a cross that Coldicott-Stevens blasted over the bar.
Thus ended a largely unsatisfactory half for Hitchin Town, when one compares their recent performances. But for Barton it was a fillip – you can let in eight against a lower team and then put two past a Southern Premier side – almost a fair exchange.

Hitchin substitutions were inevitable. Kye Tearle was replaced by Ryan Smith and Max Smith by Darion Furlong. More followed for both teams, as is usual.
What we did see was Hitchin beginning to press at last, but they could only dent and not break through the Rovers’ mean defence. Rio Dasilva, who, by his standards had a quiet first half, became more urgent, winning the ball, putting in crosses, one of which landed nicely for Stead, who put it over the cross bar.
There was a good counter by Barton, and it looked promising until the final pass that was far too heavy. Ryan Smith made his presence felt as usual, as did Luke Brown who received a reprimand for a cunning piece of fending off that decked a boy in blue, who writhed appropriately as players clustered round and got their fourpence worth in in terms of remarks.

The result was a completely wasted Hitchin free-kick. But Brown did get another shot in that required a decent save. Dasilva had a wild one that reached the trees and a good long pass to Marsh saw yet another blocked shot. Barton did not mange too many attacks this half, since Hitchin were stil trying to get their depleted act together, but Horlock was busy enough. Furlong went down in the penalty area, being the only one to claim a penalty and when he did not get it he thought he might stay down to increase the legitimacy of his ignored claim.

As usual in these mediocre Hitchin performances, some travelling supporters aired their view that there would be nothing favourable to report about Hitchin, and they bordered on the most scathing comment that their team was becoming lucky to get the nought. Few people are more fickle than disenchanted football supporters. I felt that quality from both teams was a little lacking in this second half – notable only for Hitchin to play well enough to avoid conceding again.

Hitchin substitute Black had a good exchange with Brown but a chap in blue put paid to that little venture, and this was the pattern of the play. Moves were anticipated, passes were short and really, Barton deserved this win and I wish them good hunting in their division in the coming season. The Hitchin chairman and I are indeed in Barton’s debt since every time we were given a cup of tea, it was accompanied by a smile and the expression, ‘that will be £25, please.’ Inflation is rife in nearby Bartonshire.

It is always a pleasure to visit our near neighbours and we hope that time might erase that handball that put the boys in blue out of the FA Cup some three years ago. Hitchin have a chance to redeem themselves on Tuesday when Bedford Town are the visitors in the last game before the season begins in earnest

Charlie Horlock, Delsin Ackon, (Jack Green), Alex Brown, Kye Tearle, ( Ryan Smith), Max Ryan, (Darion Furlong), Ben Walster, captain, Alex Marsh, (Jake Davis), Josh Coldicott-Stevens, Callum Stead, Luke Brown, (Henry Snee), Rio Dasilva. (Mal Black).
Other substitutes- Steve Cawley, Nathan Godfrey.

No details provided.

REFEREE: Mr S Lewis, assisted by Ms L McGregor, and Mr K Mayhew.




Competition Season
Friendly 2021-22