What the Dickens….it is indeed Hard times for these times at Hitchin, as the club failed to secure its first League win at the fifth attempt. They were not exactly slaughtered by The Lambs so much as defeated by some notable moments of individual skill. It was these moments that separated the two sides in what was a mostly even first half. Hitchin were again thrown by the concession of an early goal, and from then what rhythm was displayed was disrupted .
The game was preceded with a minute’s respectful silence to remember the life of former Hitchin player Bernie Gogan, who was active in the late sixties and early seventies. Today’s team news was brief. Goal keeper Charlie Horlock was back from injury; Max Ryan dropped to the bench, with Jay Dowie back from suspension and Charlie Hayford has left to join Northwood on a dual-contract basis. The weather, like the Hitchin performance was changeable.
In an early foray, a cross from Leo Donnellan brought a downward header from Draper, and the latter was also involved when he was on the end of a cross from Jordan Norville-Williams – this effort going wide. What was noticeable was the efficiency of the visitors’ defence and also their potential in going forward. It took them just eight minutes to snatch the lead. If it was not exactly something from nothing it was a cheeky strike from Gregory Kaziboni, who appeared to be surrounded by defending players, managed to control the ball well before he turned and struck – the ball entering the net off the post.
Of course, it made matters more difficult, and Tamworth followed this with another effort that was just tipped away for a corner. Draper almost notched the equaliser following a cross from the right and Jordan Clement’s effort for The Lambs was unintentionally meek. close passing for Hitchin proved a difficult option since each ball was contested closely, and long ball stuff went nowhere. One bright moment was Norville-Wlliams’ angled shot from the left, but this like most, was efficiently defended. A corner from this exciting wing back saw Draper flick wide and a shot from a very busy Lewis Ferrell gave rise to optimistic claims that the ball had crossed the line. Bickerstaff put in a header that was held by a none too busy Jasbir Singh and Jay Dowie picked up a caution for a foul on Rhys Hoenes. Ferrell combined with Anderson and as the cross came in, Draper threw himself somewhat dramatically at the ball to effect a diving header, but he missed the ball entirely.
Then, with play still flowing we witnessed a sudden strong breeze that was powerful enough to make it seem that it was raining leaves from our many surrounding trees – it really was dramatic and extraordinary- giving way a little later to the usual rain. Shortly after this Hoenes was involved in a move which saw Kaziboni exert fine control again and send in a beauty of a lob that seemed to give Horlock little chance. It was two minutes before the interval and was indeed a savage blow to the hosts who had been gamely looking for an opening to secure the equaliser.
In the board room at half-time there was an unusually somnolent atmosphere, ( more like a bored room, it seemed), causing some wag to suggest music be played. A significant comment from one of the travelling officials was to to ask, albeit rhetorically, how his team were two up. Now that was a little modest as the two goals were from moments of inspiration – with an excellent finish – particularly the second. for the home supporters it was far from good as a fourth defeat in five games and no goals scored was highly indicative. We did not expect the disarray and lack of discipline in the second period from a Hitchin side that is in apparent need of overhaul. Tamworth began purposefully with Horlock needing to punch away an early effort. Kazibone saw his exhilarating run brought to a rude halt by Ferrell who received a caution for the offence – but Draper popped up again only to shoot wide. Bickerstaff and Anderson combined and this time it was the turn of Jabir Singh to punch clear. If there had been hope it was effectively shattered ten minutes into this niggling second period, when a defensive bloomer saw a botched attempt at a clearance from Hitchin and the prowling Daniel Creaney had time to set up his shot that successfully found the bottom left corner and The Lambs were three goals to the good – with Hitchin well out of the game now,
In a space of under ten minutes the hosts employed maximum substitutions but the best that can be said is that the team did not concede any further goals in the rainy end to the game. Simms, Okuboyejo and Barker replaced Donnellan, Verney and Gauge. The visitors also used all three subs and Wilder replaced the subdued Hoenes, as well as Clement giving way to Howes and lastly Waite replaced the two goal hero and man of the match Kazibone.
Okuboyejo was fortunate to win a corner when his shot was rising dramatically and took a deflection. Ferrell and Bickerstaff continued to look for openings but were frustrated as the Lambs’ defence was sure-footed. Draper’s attempt at a volley was commendable but easy for Sing, whose body shape suggested he was ready for a real belter. Tamworth perhaps ought to have scored a fourth when the marauding Creaney picked up a loose ball and ran without challenge only to shoot wide, the ball taking a slight deflection in flight.
Draper appealed for a penalty at the slightest provocation, and there were one or two relatively minor flare-ups where grievances were aired among the gathering throng surrounding the referee. This manifested the frustration obviously felt by the Hitchin players who were painfully aware that the performance in the second half was indeed sub-standard.
Right near the end there could have been that elusive fourth goal when Bilal Yafai enabled Creaney to have a free shot which was entirely wasted – but at least his team was home (if not dry). the train had caused the terraced end to be be deserted as spectators sought cover so the team was ‘excused’ their usual salute to the supporters. At the other end the Tamworth lads milked it from their hardy band, and why not – they had won comfortably, and now have statistics of three wins , two losses and one draw. Hitchin’s statistics make sad reading – one point achieved in five games and one player only has scored the three goals accrued to date.
We break from League action next week to begin the campaign in the Emirates FA Cup – which was the highlight of last season. We face either Ely City or Wisbech Town away before the scheduled league match away at Banbury United, the former club of the two goal Gregory Kaziboni.
Charlie Horlock, Alex Anderson, Jordan Norville-Williams, Lewis Ferrell, cautioned, Dan Webb, captain, Joe Gauge, Jay Dowie, cautioned, Harry Draper, James Verney, Leo Donnellan, Josh Bickerstaff. Substitutions – Devonte Simms for Donnellan, 53, Leon Okuboyejo for Verney, 55, Lewis Barker, cautioned, for Gauge, 60.
Substitutes not used – Max Ryan and Mo Ahmed.
Jasbir Singh, Rashaan Frances, Jordan Gough, Bilal Yafai, Joesph Magunda, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, cautioned, Gregory Kaziboni, TWO GOALS 8 AND 43, This reporter’s man of the match, James Fry, Daniel Creaney, GOAL 55, Jordan Clement,Rhys Hoenes. Subsitutes used – Henri Wilder for Hoenes, 55, Alex Howes for Clement, 61, and Tyrell Waite for Kaziboni, 71.
Substitutes not used – Kyle Ambris and Ahmed Obeng.
REFEREE: Mr M Chard, assisted by Mr C O’Meara and Mr J Cannon.
REPORT BY PIPEMAN