After a rainy journey to the Victoria Ground, we were keen to see the Hitchin team selection since Ben Walster began his three-match suspension, whilst goal keeper Charles Horlock returned after his enforced ‘test’. Lewis Barker was also making a return and Kyle Tearle, after his fine displays in the FA Youth Cup was included among the substitutes.
It was good news for Hitchin today as it was the second successive away win this current season and also the second successive away win at the Victoria Ground which was richly deserved following a comprehensive team performance with two goals scored and a clean sheet for Charles Horlock on his return.
The game was watched by the maximum permitted attendance of 600. Rain continued to fall as we got underway and there was an early chance for the Canaries, following a corner, with Ryan Smith shooting wide.
The Rouslers had a fair portion of possession and Luke Ward saw his effort go wide of the mark. A long free kick from goalkeeper Daniel Platt gave Jason Cawley an opportunity but his shot cleared the cross bar.
A fair attempt from the left by the hosts saw Horlock punch clear and a shot from range by Liam Spink went over the bar. Spink’s next cross was held by Horlock and Joshua Quaynor’s hopeful cross was cut out. Then, at the other end Lewis Barker’s header was saved by Platt it is worth mentioning here that both goalkeepers had outstanding games.
There was at this stage a fair bit of pressure from The Rouslers but the Hitchin defence was sure-footed and able to create counter moves, one of which involved Luke Brown and Lewis Barker, who shot just wide.
A good chance for Hitchin came when Callum Stead seized upon a loose ball and Platt saved well from the shot. Then Stead won a free- kick, which saw Eadie put in a measured cross that Marcus Goldbourne just failed to connect with in an effective manner. Hitchin were now on song.
Some fine individual work from Stead afforded another opportunity that was just thwarted. A Bromsgrove effort saw Cowley’s header go wide. A minute or so later he had another crack but Horlock was equal to it.
We were in the last minute of the half and expecting the whistle when a cunning pass from Brown found Alex Marsh who finished neatly in what is always seen as a vital time to score.
Hitchin took that lead to the interval and were good value for it. They had contained the best efforts of the hosts who could not sustain their early promise. As the minutes passed the visitors looked confident and assured.
However, we did expect the hosts to sharpen up on resumption and this they did and in particular when they brought on striker Michael Taylor, reportedly a little way from full fitness but he has three ‘ one on ones’ and he was remarkably profligate on each occasion and not helped by Horlock’s fine anticipation.
The half opened with a fine chance created by Jack Wilson and Cawley could have made more of this chance. Spink’s looping ball gave Horlock a bit of a problem but he managed to smother the chance.
Callum Stead was characteristic in his willingness to defend as well as attack and he was rewarded later with a headed goal from close range, but this did not come until the last quarter of an hour and this was a goal needed for extra comfort.
This may be underlined when Taylor was put through for his first ‘one on one’ against Horlock but our Charlie made a distinguished save. Taylor had another go – again denied by Horlock and then at the other end Stead’s spirited run into the penalty area saw him neatly dispossessed.
Bromsgrove were awarded a couple of free- kicks in inviting areas but these were well defended. Stead had yet another go and a Goldbourne shot was defended for a corner.
There was a feeling that Hitchin were on the brink of another goal and this came after seventy-five minutes when following a cross from the right, the hone side did not deal adequately with this and a short cross within the box saw Stead double the lead with a header from close range.
The Rouslers did rouse themselves to some degree with some inspirational work from Charlie Dowd and once more the normally lethal Taylor was denied. At least two further moves from the hone side were wasted but mention is made here of the sterling defensive work from Daniel Akubuine and Samuel Okoye- Ahaneku who are both proving to be valuable signings.
The late home rally was keen but seemed to lack conviction – but we must take nothing away from the precise defending and of course, Horlock’s vital saves.
As a team performance it was most satisfying. Errors were negligible and play was marked by patience and anticipation. Once ahead the team looked comfortable and it was pleasing to hear home officials commend the win as thoroughly deserved in all respects.
The Canaries return to Top Field on Monday with a Hertfordshire derby against Royston Town who also won today. It was their first league win of the season and will fire them for the forthcoming game.
We of course hope that Hitchin can make it three wins in a row. We shall see.
Daniel Platt, Liam Spink, cautioned, Jack Wilson, Nathan Hayward, Luke Ward, cautioned, Leon Broadhurst, captain, cautioned, Gift Mussa, Joshua Quaynor, Jason Cowley, Charlie Dowd, Courtney Richards.
Substitutes used – Michael Taylor for Richards, 50, Christopher Lait for Mussa, 62, Kieran Westwood for Cowley, 80.
Unused substitutes: Joshua Ezewele and Max Beardmore, GK
Charles Horlock, Daniel Akubuine, Layne Eadie, captain, Ryan Smith, Samuel Okoye- Ahaneku, this reporter’s man of the match, Lawrie Marsh, Alexander Marsh, GOAL, 45 minutes, cautioned, Lewis Barker, Callum Stead, GOAL,75 minutes, Luke Brown, Marcus Gouldbourne.
Substitutes used – Stephen Cawley for Luke Brown, 74, Joshua Caldecott- Stevens, Rio Dasilva for Marcus Gouldbourne, 85.
Unused substitutes: Tiernan Parker, GK, Kye Tearle.
REFEREE: Mr Scott Chalkley, assisted by Mr James Whittington and Mr Jason Roberts.
REPORT BY PIPEMAN