Hitchin Town 1 Tamworth 1


Southern League 2021-22

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
1 - 1
Final Score


I think we are all glad that this fixture finally went ahead and was played to a conclusion. In mid-December, the original date saw the game abandoned owing to a head injury to a Tamworth player. The corresponding fixture at Tamworth had to be rearranged owing to the fuel crisis at the time and when Hitchin did travel for the late October fixture it ended in a 0-0 draw.

A draw was the conclusion tonight, and the consensus seems to be that it was an equitable result. Once again Hitchin took the lead and once again they relinquished it in the final ten minutes. But a point is a point and a lot better than nothing, and the Canaries still remain third from bottom.

With the rain falling for the whole of the game it was no surprise that the players struggled to control the ball at times. The pitch held up well and actually gave a surprising zip to the ball. It was an evenly contested game, but for the purist perhaps the employment of the ‘long ball’ might have caused some irritation. But since Hitchin’s goal came from a ‘route one ‘ move I am not gong to complain. For a long period it seemed that if a goal were to be witnessed it would be from a set piece, as meaningful attempts on goal were not abundant.

Home spectators were aware that Tamworth’s resuscitation was more than adequately on display on Saturday last when they put six past Barwell without reply. Prior to that, recent reverses had seen them slip to be placed, somewhat nervously, just above the relegation zone. Like Biggleswade Town they have a new manager, Andy Peaks, and he is well aware of his immediate task.

For the Canaries both Stephen Gleeson and Malaki Black were recalled to the starting eleven, with Rio Dasilva and Josh Coldicott-Stevens placed on the bench, but both came on as second-half substitutes. After the crucial win over Biggleswade Town, hopes were high that another three points could be garnered, and we were just fewer than ten minutes away from that, and once more it was the rash concession of a free kick in a dangerous area that was our undoing.

There was an initial air of caution about the opening exchanges as players adapted to the conditions, both sides gaining and losing possession. Some over hit passes were quietly making their way back to both keepers. Other passes were unwittingly given too heavy a touch, including one to Charlie Horlock who had to accelerate off his line to hoof it to safety. His counterpart was just as alert and gratefully received crosses that were not purposely played too close to him. A clear cut chance was a long time in coming. Corners were well defended by both teams.

Wilder defended as cross at the expense of a corner. Cue the Hitchin patent – and it was well played the ball eventually played high into the box, and not only was the ball headed away, close to the line but Steve Cawley followed up with a shot – on target but straight at Jasbir Singh. It was the best chance so far but it took a quarter of an hour. Both clubs tried to get the ball over the midfield which resulted in some lusty head tennis, but Tamworth were gaining more possession. Gleeson cut out a cross that looked as if it would fall nicely for a player in red and black.

Tamworth won a free kick wide on the right with Lewis Barker reprimanded.

Gleeson defended it but the visitors kept possession, but again, not for long, as inevitable errors of judgement reminded us of the difficulties of producing artistic play. Daniel Creaney was lurking with definite intent and needed to be closely monitored. One negligible Tamworth shot brought a goal kick. Cawley was trying to be his creative self but found it difficult to judge his passes.

Stan Georgiou showed decent anticipation and had another fine game. Dexter Walters shot was wide, Georgiou and Green had a good interchange on the right but the forward ball to Hutchinson was again too heavy. I suppose it was encouraging in a way that the only significant effort had come from Hitchin and Tamworth were not recreated their prolific strikes.

Walters and Thomas combined for Tamworth, but were forced to play back, patient in possession. Over half an hour had been played. Cawley held the ball up from a forward pass but was not permitted the shot and back came Tamworth again. Hutchinson tried to connect from a neat flick but was easily thwarted. There had been no stoppages but excitement was not in plentiful supply, with cautious defending from both teams.

From a long forward pass, the ball bounced awkwardly and seemed to present Tamworth with a bonus chance but Horlock was down to smother the ball. It was a timely warning. A diagonal shot saw the Hitchin keeper down low to gather. We seemed to be drifting towards half-time in an inconclusive manner, but with no shortage of effort. Cawley’s fine ball out to Hutchinson saw the latter cross, but again too close to Singh. Cawley won a late free-kick and home supporters made the usual remarks about it being a good time to score. But, let’s face it, any time is a good time to score and the more, the better. It was defended routinely and the one extra minute was of no benefit to either side.

I felt that Tamworth were marginally better, but that margin was close. It had not been easy for the players who seemed very much aware that these conditions invited errors and one such error might be fatal, which is one way of saying that the teams were playing to the conditions. My thoughts again strayed to the high probability of a goal coming from a set piece.

The rain continued but the pitch had held up well and there was no question of this game not being played to a conclusion. Importantly, Hitchin had not conceded and had defended well. But from Hitchin’s performance so far we wondered if they could fully commit to all out attack since Tamworth had been adept at breaking down and instigating counter play with some degree of swiftness.

After ten minutes of the second period there was a breakthrough that was the result of a route one style kick from Horlock. His up field punt bounced and was given an involuntary flick from Chris Cox, which was of assistance to Jake Hutchinson who finished smartly, having just the keeper to beat at close range. He obliged and of course we cheered lustily. A few minutes earlier he had tested Singh with a fine volley. But Hitchin had the goal and of course home fans urged for a second to give an unaccustomed feeling of comfort and, I dare say, relief. What did it matter if it was route one, since they all count. I just hoped we could replicate it.

Malaki Black shot wide after assistance from Steve Cawley, drawing the usual ‘oohs’ from the brave should standing in the rain behind the goal. At the covered end visiting supporters sang ‘We are Tamworth, no-one likes us, we don’t care’. I expect Millwall will file a suit for plagiarism. It is a curious chant and I wonder what instigates it in our visitors tonight.

Creaney’ attempt on goal brought a corner, with Ciaren jones opting for safety with a hefty punt up field to vacant space. Better that than losing possession and giving the opposition another chance, but it does register a degree of nervousness. The old question of whether or not this lead could be protected was uppermost in our minds. Tamworth applied themselves with a degree of fortitude and creativity. A free-kick was conceded wide on the left, inviting a meaningful cross, it brought a header that went harmlessly wide. We had played an hour. Cawley conceded a free-kick and was cautioned, which was seen by home supporters as a trifle harsh. In came the free-kick, with Webb complaining at a manful attempt from an opponent tho gain another free kick in a more inviting place.

Tamworth moved up field with a series of throw-in and Whittingham’s cross was too deep to be connected with. One or two questionable tackles were overlooked, and Black attempted to cut in but was successfully challenged.

A throw- in from Brown seemed to create a possibility of incursion, but defending was again effective.

Hitchin held out, with some defending having an anywhere will do edge to them. Better that than unwittingly giving a chance of another attack. It was not pretty but had they prevailed no criticism would be offered in earnest.

Lobs forward asked too much of Cawley and Hutchinson.

JCS replaced Gleeson – a kind of like for like but JCS we knew had the greater pace, with youth on his side. Concannon came on for Walters. We had twenty odd minutes to go. Cawley’s forward ball saw Hutchinson fall dramatically in the penalty area, which did not impress the referee, and there were some wry comments from spectators sitting near me. He was looking for it of course, but we charitably agreed it was a stumble.

Wilder’s cross was held by Horlock. Black’s forward pass to Cawley whose pass for Hutchinson was again ill-judged. Time seemed to stop ticking, as it always does when you hold that slender advantage. A low Tamworth cross saw Horlock go down on one knee to save and perhaps issue a little prayer.

A nice little bit of possession would have been nice. James Hurst was proving a nuisance on the flank with some skilful play. Skipper Ryan Beswick was replaced by Jordan Clement. Rio Dasilva was warming up for Hitchin. This substitution drew some criticism, not for the player selected but for the timing. It came when Tamworth had been awarded a free-kick – with Hutchinson I think the offender. Before this was taken Dasilva came on and I wondered why this could not have been delayed until after the free-kick.

This was taken by Jordan Brown and it presented Hurst with a chance for a perfect header and it brought the equaliser. We had done it again. We had held out until the late stages and now there was another mountain to climb, with Tamworth commanding the initiative.

The goal was timed at eighty-two minutes. Being objective I must say that it was an equaliser that we cannot begrudge them as they had consistently threatened to break down the Hitchin defence – and once again it was the concession of a perhaps avoidable free-kick that was the cause. And yes, I was unwilling to be right that a goal would come from a set piece.

Hitchin tried gamely, with a free-kick inviting Webb to score a captain’s goal but he was easily outdone and a spirited run from Thomas gave us the heeby-jeebies. He was unsuccessful but we could well do without such stuff at this stage. Four additional minutes were added, and both sides looked to snatch it. A cross almost reached the lurking Alex Brown but only brought a corner. Another late free-kick beckoned a Roy of The Rovers finish but it was denied. JCS battled for the slightest of advantages in possession but defenders robustly stood in his way.

So, it ended all square and I felt that it was about right, and thus both games between these teams ended with a sharing of the points. Given the conditions the game was as good as it could be, with sensible play, with just a modicum of rash tackling here and there.

The team travels in hope to Leiston on Saturday, and we are well aware that they are in the top half of the table. They were the team that eliminated Hitchin from the FA Trophy in late October, and a few eyebrows were raised when Hitchin bagged a fine 4-1 home win in the league game ten days later.

The route to safety means that every single game is of crucial importance and it is pleasant to record that the Canaries have now gone three games without defeat, with a win and two draws – all home games. Whilst away form has not been outstanding there have been a couple of notable wins at Stourbridge and Royston, as well as some fighting draws, where on a couple of occasions they ought to have won. Let us hope for a memorable performance in Suffolk.

Charlie Horlock, Jack Green, Alex Brown, Stephen Gleeson, (Josh Coldicott-Stevens), Dan Webb, captain, Ciaren Jones, Stan Georgiou, Lewis Barker, cautioned, Sponsors’ Man of The Match, Jacob Hutchinson, GOAL, 55 MINUTES, Stephen Cawley, cautioned, (Rio Dasilva), Malaki Black, cautioned.

Substitutes not used- Ben Stevens, Michael Conlon and Kye Tearle.

Jasbir Singh, James Hurst, this reporter’s opposition man of the match, GOAL, 82 MINUTES, Henri Wilder, Ryan Beswick, captain, (Jordan Clement), Christopher Cox, Ben Bailey, Jack Thomas, Gift Mussa, Daniel Creaney, Shaquille Whittingham, Dexter Walters, (Jack Concannon). Substitutes not used- Lucas Yeomans, Jordan Brown and Wahib Tahra.

Referee- Mr G Stanton, assisted by Mr C Charles and Mr P Yates.

Attendance 412



Competition Season
Southern League 2021-22