Hitchin Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Friendly 2024-25

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
0 - 1
Final Score


So, here we are again, and the reprieve has proved a mixed blessing for our manager whose onerous task of preparation was severely complicated. But the pre-season programme got underway with the visitors being Rushden and Diamonds, who are now a step four side.

The Northamptonshire team sneaked a win with their one main chance, which is significant, since most goal chances fell to a very eager Hitchin squad whose debut was wholesome and suggestive of a meaningful improvement. I know that managers and some supporters consider the results of pre- season games not of paramount importance, but no-one likes to lose, especially when your team has been largely dominant.

There had been heavy rain, but the pitch looked excellent, and the new home kit was making its debut. Of course, the squad contained many new names but one familiar ones as well. There were the usual anonymous “Triallist A” etc., but that is standard practice.

There were moments of promising play in attack from the hosts and a curious lack of aggressive intent from the visitors in the opening stages. George Morrall got the first shot away, which was straight at the keeper, but there was good stuff from Rio Deall and Triallist B.

Deall had a shot blocked following work from the veteran Steve Gleeson, who now combines a playing role with his coaching duties. Barker and Syme steadied the ship and the latter was instrumental in some forward moves. Twenty minutes had seen a certain disinclination from Diamonds to provide Josh Mollison with the need to make a save or two. Hitchin were yet to penetrate with a proper shot on target and the play seemed as changeable as the weather.

There was one Hitchin cross that looked the business, but it eluded all but a defender who avoided the indignity of an own goal. Deall put in another cross with no-one to receive it. One over elaborate move ended with Ben Heath, the visiting keeper tidying up without being put under any pressure.

Half an hour had passed with no thrills coming from Hitchin’s persistent forward play. They were the better team but still had no goals to reflect this superiority. Diamonds were indeed mediocre with no real creative zest, and they wasted free kicks with a seeming indifference. On the positive side they defended adequately but seemed for most of this half content to do so.

They did manage a corner from a sporadic move after forty-one minutes, but Jarvis Wilson’s header was off target. But it was something. Hitchin resumed their attacking stance, and a Gleeson cross brought a corner and the same player’s wayward shot finished the half.

We always have great expectations and perhaps the inevitable changes for the second half would inject the proceedings with a little more zest. There was a weak shot after good work from Ciaren Jones and Rio Deall. The replacement goalkeeper, Billy Panter, had to leave his line to provide a clearance, and this was not an isolated incident. Deall had a decent chance but could only provide a corner that was hit heavily over everybody’s head. Morrell’s cross to Jack Dreyer should have been converted but at least Hitchin were still on the attack.

A goal was badly needed, and Mc Neil’s long throw was suggestive but landed safely in the Hitchin keeper’s gloves. Back came Hitchin with an on target shot from Triallist C. We yearned to see a finished product, given the lack of forward play from Diamonds.

Connor Vincent was substituted after failing to make a lasting impression in this game, but he was willing enough and we will no doubt see an improvement. A Hitchin free kick from the right was ably defended by Diamonds and a following move was of negligible quality.

Replacement Hitchin goalkeeper James Callan had little to do and at this stage a clean sheet seemed more or less guaranteed. Liam Brooks was battling up front for the Canaries but was harried at every turn. Albie Hall was finding it difficult to demonstrate his ability, being closely monitored.

Then, in a snap attack there was a smart move on the right from Diamonds’ Aaron Dickens, whose fine cross saw Jax Bedford snatch the lead cater seventy- nine minutes. It may be said that it was against the run of of play but Hitchin ought to have made more of their opportunities. Rushden exploited their best chance, and it brought a goal.

Albie Hall had a half chance following a fine move from Ciaren Jones, but the former’s touch in the next move was too light. Morrall was fouled in one move and the free kick from Triallist C was unacceptably poor. The next move saw a shot from Morrall that was well wide.

The problems of the final third remind and will no doubt be worked on. A late corner saw a repeated chance to score but defenders had their way. The visitors defended comfortably and held on to their lead to secure a win and all credit to them.
It was a mainly positive start, with many players used and it will be interesting to see what kind of team Brett Donnelly will start with against Barnet on Monday.

Josh Mollison, Rio Deall, Triallist A, Toby Syme, Lewis Barker, Jay Rolfe, TrialList B, Stephen Gleeson, Captain, Connor Vincent, Albie Hall, George Morrall.
Subs: James Callan, Lewis Franklin, Dempsey Thomas, Dan Sears, Ciaren Jones, Jack Dreyer, Kieron Forbes, Triallist C, Liam Brooks.

Ben Heath, Joe Malkin, Aaron Dickens, Tejan Thomas, CharlieGreen, Jarvis Wilson, Joe O’Neill, Calvin Green, Luke Emery, Carter Price, Isaac Redding, Charlie Seaman, Billy Panter, Bleun Mc Neill, Tarik Dallas, Dylan McGinley, Jax Bedford, GOAL, 79 minutes.

Mr B Compton, assisted by Mr C Geelan and Mr Z Muslin.


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Friendly 2024-25 247