Hitchin Town 0 Stevenage 3


Friendly 2023-24

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
0 - 3
Final Score


After a creditable performance against a young Luton Town squad, the Canaries were eager to take on our county neighbours from Stevenage.

The now League One team numbered among its achievements last season a famous away win at Villa Park, defeating Premier League Aston Villa in the FA Cup in dramatic circumstances entirely conducive to that great Competition. It was not the only senior scalp in their relatively short history.

Hitchin made a number of changes from Saturday and were soon facing the need to defend as Stevenage began with a will and a purpose. That eagerness was matched with measured defending with Horlock holding the first aggressive header from Alex Macdonald.

A flurry of early Stevenage corners proved to be of variable quality and Horlock was down low to smother a shot from range. A free kick from the visitors was entirely wasted but the pressure continued. Even the slightest error was pounced on, as you would expect, but, after twenty minutes, the hosts had indeed risen to the challenge, with the aerial one being particularly arduous, as was dealing with the slick sweeping play often in pleasing evidence.

The hosts won their first corner which was beaten away almost indignantly but the counter move was thwarted. A free kick from the visitors was well defended but the pressure did not relent as we reached the half hour mark.

Gouveia almost robbed the keeper in a defensive move and Horlock drew applause for a notable save in the next away foray.

The inevitable successful strike came after thirty-five minutes with Jamie Reid converting emphatically. Then there was a controversial incident with a cluster of aggrieved players protesting about a nasty challenge with, believe it or not, Stan Georgiou receiving a red card, something that certainly surprised me. I agree with a Stevenage official who described, somewhat charitably, the offending tackle as impetuous and will say that such play is not generally characteristic of Stan’s play. There was some discussion as to whether the referee might allow another player to replace Stan, as it was a friendly. I believe the referee was correct in not permitting this since, had he done so it might be seen as condoning such play that merits punishment, whatever type of game it is.

Reid took a successful penalty and so Hitchin were two goals down and down to ten men. The goals was timed at thirty-nine minutes and the words damage limitation were heard.

True to form I have a little digression to report a spectacular rainbow that appeared as did mobile phones to photograph the evanescence. Our pot of gold came from another bumper attendance of 1,033. As we thanked Luton Town so we thank Stevenage and it is not often that I can report a second successive home attendance in excess of a thousand, with the visiting club well represented.

Three Hitchin substitutes were made after the break and our visitors replaced virtually their whole team, including ex Canary Kane Smith. The pattern of play was largely unchanged, with a fine header from Stevenage almost finding the net. They had the lion’s share of possession and this worked the ten men in arduous fashion. It was, in many ways, quite an achievement to keep the score down with a numerical disadvantage and facing a full professional side.

Nick Freeman tested Horlock with a fine shot but a decent save denied him and the moment drew applause. Sweeping forward moves were increasingly common but praise is due for some concentrated Hitchin defending. Wilkinson was replaced by Ashley Hay. Galliford was fouled on the run and Cotter shaped for the free kick. This ricocheted off a defender and a counter move was on but dealt with adequately.

There was another home substitution with Charlie Miller replacing Kav Cotter. Kane Smith’s crafted pass saw Horlock off his line to snuff out the move and it was notable that the visitors were not yet able to add to their first half tally. What am I saying…..the third goal came after eighty minutes and the assist came from Kane and the scorer was Jake Foster-Caskey, with a smooth professional finish.

Slick, passing play had been very much in evidence and the Stevenage defence had masterfully restricted Hitchin attempts on goal, but it was not for lack of effort. Stevenage had turned in a good, professional performance and we wish them ever success in the forthcoming campaign.

I liked Mark Burke’s experimental initial selection and the second half substitutions produced some bold play. The thorough testing of the Hitchin defence can only be beneficial, given the reported strength of some of the teams in our division. Well done to the stewards and other volunteers who showed that we can cope with such increased numbers and how wonderful it would be if such an attendance tonight could be commonplace.

I enjoyed the game since it is always good to see a professional team at Top Field and how earnestly our team rises to the considerable challenge. There is a change of pace in two days time where a mixed squad will travel the short distance to take on freshly promoted Leighton Town who enjoyed much improved attendances at Bell Close in the process. I predict an entertaining encounter.

Charlie Horlock, captain, Kye Tearle, Ciaren Jones, Toby Syme, Dempsey Thomas, Stan Georgiou, dismissed, straight red card, Diogo Freitas Gouveia, Steve Gleeson, Jack Snelus, Kav Cotter, Finley Wilkinson.

Substitutes used- Layne Eadie, Bradley Bell, Ashley Hay, Isaac Galliford, Charlie Miller. Not used – George Devine, Marley Stein, Jeremiah Lewuor, Henry Silver and Aran Jennings.

Taye Ashby-Hammond, Luther Wildin, Dan Butler, Nathan Thompson, Carl Piergianni, captain, Alex Macdonald, Elliot List, Terence Vancooten, Jamie Reid, Two Goals, 35 and 39 minutes, (penalty ), Louis Thompson, Ben Thompson. Substitutions, all second half – Trialist, Jake Foster- Casker, Goal, 80 minutes, Nick Freeman, Jordan Roberts, Kane Smith, Josh March, Owen Cochrane, Theo Alexandrou, David Hicks, Kyman Sykers. Not used- Riley Mitchell.

Referee- Mr Sam Purkiss, assisted by Mr Richard Wharton and Mr Tom Cartwright. Fourth official – Mr Tommy Breen.]]

Attendance 1,033



Competition Season Attendance
Friendly 2023-24 1033