Hitchin Town continued their pre-season momentum with their second visit of 2020/21 to face Leverstock Green at their Pancake Lane ground. It was their second visit to the stadium this year, following January’s visit in the Herts Senior Cup that saw the Canaries grind out a 2-0 win.
This pre-season encounter with the Spartan South Midlands Premier side was dominated in large spells by the Canaries despite the away side featuring a lot of new faces, including several members of the Pro Direct Academy side.
The starting XI saw a couple of changes from the team that kicked off against Letchworth last week and after an initially subdued start, Hitchin Town continued to maintain the majority of the possession and soon started to find some opportunities on goal. Steve Cawley had a couple of great chances with one scraping across the top of the cross bar before he unfortunately picked up a knock and was replaced by Marcus Goldbourne.
Ben Walster was presented with another chance to open the scoring with a free kick just outside of the area directly in front of goal but he was unable to find a route through the Leverstock Green defence. Just a minute later, the Canaries did deservedly break the deadlock through new forward Luke Brown.
The chances continued in the next few minutes for both Luke Brown and Lorrell Smith before Leverstock Green were awarded a penalty following a Ben Walster challenge in the area. This was the first test of the evening for Charlie Horlock who produced a great save to keep the score at 1-0.
Into the second half and the customary array of pre-season substitutions began as well as a change of referee after the official from the first half took a firm hit to the side of his face by the ball as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close.
Luke Brown added his and Hitchin Town’s second goal of the night on 54 minutes, with a clever strike from just outside the box and then added a third from a free-kick to complete his hat-trick 10 minutes later. He was made to wait a long time to take his free kick following some confusing scenes regarding a Leverstock player being dismissed by the referee. The replacement man in the middle originally showed the Leverstock Green number 19 a “second” yellow card and the subsequent red. However, after some strong protests from the Leverstock Green players and some subtle persuasion from Adam Parker it was decided that the previous yellow had actually been for the number 16 and so the game would remain even at 11 v 11.
The substitutions continued with Layne Eadie taking on the captain’s duties in the 73rd minute as the final four Hitchin Town players came off the bench. Henry Snee made a nuisance of himself as a second-half sub in attack and was unlucky not to grab a goal – the younger has had two prolific seasons a neighbouring junior side Shefford and the HTFC management team will have a close eye on his development in the coming months.
Overall, this was a confident display from Hitchin Town. With some precision passing and fantastic teamwork developing already, it is hard not to get too excited about the season ahead. The obvious star of the night was hotshot Luke Brown with all three goals, however every single player in yellow can be happy with their performance levels in yet another win.
HITCHIN TOWN SQUAD
Charlie Horlock, Kye Tearle, Jhai Dhillon, Joshua Coldicott-Stevens, Dan Webb, Ben Walster, Lorrell Smith, Ryan Smith, Steve Cawley, Luke Brown, Rio Dasilva, Jack Green, Josh Mollison, Max Ryan, Henry Snee, Layne Eadie, Marcus Goldbourne, Hayden Evanson, Jordan Webber, Luca Cardines, Marlow Gough, Laurie Marsh.
REPORT BY PAUL SPRAGUE