Hitchin Town vs Watford U23


Friendly 2022-23

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Hitchin Town
Watford U23
0 - 0
Final Score


There may have been no score but this was an entertaining game and, in my view, Hitchin’s best performance in the pre-season games. Defending was notable, particularly in some fine tackles where prevention was paramount.
Possession was much improved and attacking play was promising.

Our visitors named a squad that had a sprinkling of first team players, along with the usual anonymity of triallists, that numbered three. Hitchin made some changes to the team that won at Stotfold at the weekend and along with Watford made half a dozen substitutes during the game.

It was an auspicious occasion for our national women’s team and we all kept up to date with the score, but it was, I feel quite an auspicious occasion for this Hitchin team that showed they could battle and compete throughout against senior, professional opposition. And they kept a clean sheet.

Watford, playing in blue shirts and white shorts, began as confidentally as expected but, perhaps to our slight surprise, they soon found themselves defending one or two audacious attacking moves from Hitchin that, even if they petered out, were suggestive of confidence. Shaquille Forde’s early shot was of negligible worth and a weak header from Scott Holding did not test Charlie Horlock. There was some impressive defensive work from Callum Kane, causing Forde’s next effort to be effectively blocked.

Saturday’s man of the match, KyeTearle, who had another fine game, had a run that saw him bundled fairly off the ball and the outstanding Jack Morrell got caught up with himself on his forward run, and George Devine’s flick was more cheeky than accurate. A move involving Forde and Fletcher was well defended and this added zest to Hitchin’s positive start to this game. Forde’s shot was blocked and Horlock saved from Cleverley’s subtle effort.

A highlight of this half was a peach of a shot from Rio Dasilva which grazed the crossbar. Fletcher latched onto a through ball and his attempt was saved by Horlock. Tearle’s free kicks were generally good but this particular one was too heavy for anyone to meet it.

A move from Watford involving Abbott and Mebude saw Forde hit the bar, and as with Dasilva’s effort it could easily have been an opening goal. This first half was so absorbing it seemed to go very quickly. The second half saw a dozen substitutions but, curiously the pattern of play remained the same , with the hosts keeping their shape and remaining tight in defence and midfield. Exchanges had been even but the visitors began to encroach, applying some pressure that needed and received stout defending. There was a notable intervention from Toby Syme and later much of the same from Tearle and Morrell.

Dasilva had a shot saved,and a good interchange from Watford subs Grieves and Berzelius was beautifully circumvented by Morrell. Notably, Hitchin’s defence of corners showed much improvement. Barker had a wild shot that went wide. A Tearle free-kick provided a chance for Syme who found himself out of position and it required a spirited run from him to get back to defend, which he managed well. Morrell blocked another shot, but it seemed that Watford were edging closer to breaking down the home defence.

Kane had a chance but delayed too long, but he won a free kick wide on the left that Tearle fired straight at the keeper. Morris won another corner for Watford and Morrell was there to head away imperiously. Allotey had a half chance that he could not connect with fully and a bit of inspirational play from Tearle saw him win a defensive tackle and then, seeing the goalie a little off the line, our playmaker launched a long range effort that Marriott was forced to save. That would have been a goal to talk about.

Both sides continued to push for what would probably have been the winner and we were delighted with Hitchin’s zealous and uncompromising play. I say again, this was the best performance so far in terms of the Whole Game. All involved put in their bid for selection or the starting eleven in the opening league game of the season – but before then there are two more pre-season games to go – the Saturday trip to Biggleswade United and the following Tuesday to take on Cambridge City at Histon FC.

Yes, there is still a question regarding our striking ability and we do seek another Callum Stead or Jacob Wilkinson, but Sam Meakes is developing well and we still have those on the injury list to return for selection. So, it was a good all round display and a splendid test for our squad who acquitted themselves well tonight.

It was indeed pleasant after the whistle to go to the clubhouse to see the remainder of the England v Sweden game, and even as we watched we were discussing the positives of the Hitchin performance, which needs to be appreciated as a wholehearted display of real positivity. No goals but a game that exhibited excellent potential. More, please.

Charlie Horlock, (Tiernan Parker), Delsin Ackom, (Dan Olaniran), Callum Kane, Toby Syme, Jack Green, (Alex Anderson), Jack Morrell, this reporter’s Hitchin star man, Lewis Barker, Kye Tearle, mentioned in dispatches, Sam Meakes, (Bradley Bell), Rio Dasilva, (Steve Cawley), George Devine, (Jonny Allotey).
Unused substitutes- Joe Babbage Jake Bunyon, Tommy Williams, Seni Akinola, Alfie Jones, Steve Gleeson, Stan Georgiou, Malaki Black.

Myles Roberts,( Alfie Marriott), George Abbott, James Morris, Triallist 1, Triallist 2, Scott Holding, (Jack Grieves), Shaq Ford, (Tobi Adeyemo), Tom Cleverley, (Adrian Blake), Ashley Fletcher, (Christos Betzelis), Triallist 3, Dapo Mebude, ( Hamzat Balogun). Substitutes not used – Charlie Davi’s.

Referee- Mr M Fletcher assisted by (originally) Mr S Lewis and Mr A Waters, but one of the assistants was replaced before the match whose name I do not have to hand, but we thank him for making the match at short notice.

Attendance 378.

This report is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Frank King, Hitchin supporter, volunteer, gentleman and friend, who died suddenly.


Competition Season
Friendly 2022-23