Hitchin slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Tamworth on their 3G pitch where a missed penalty proved crucial. Jack Green missed the game through illness which saw Michael Cain come in for his debut and he produced a very encouraging display. Mark Burke chose to play a different system with three central defenders in Dan Webb, Josh Bickerstaff and Lewis Ferrell and two wing backs in Alex Anderson and Noah Chesmain. Ahead of this five were Matt Spring and Charlie Smith with Isaac Galliford and Cain playing behind Ezra Forde.
Hitchin made a great start when Forde was brought down by goalkeeper Jas Singh in the 8th minute. Forde showed great pace to chase a through ball and the referee had no doubt in pointing to the spot. Unfortunately Bickerstaff went for placement rather than power allowing Singh to make the save. The same happened at Bedworth and it seems Josh scores his penalties on grass but not on artificial surfaces.
The miss came back to haunt Hitchin when Chris Lait fired a fierce shot home from close range after 15 minutes. Hitchin did not let their heads drop and came really close to an equaliser when Bickerstaff made great connection with a Smith corner only to see Singh make a spectacular save. Galliord shot too high and a Webb header went wide from a Spring free kick as Hitchin continued to produce some good football. Smith shot just wide from a good chance but on the verge of half time there was an almighty scramble in the Hitchin area where a couple of shots were blocked.
Macsen Fraser had to replace the injured Anderson on 48 minutes and was then himself replaced just 12 minutes later after a recurrence of his recent injury. He was replaced by Kieron McCaffrey.
Johnson made a good save from Tyrell Waite but after 73 minutes Tamworth scored the decisive second goal through substitute Tristan Dunkley who turned in the area to produce a very good finish. After this Hitchin seemed to accept the defeat and failed to offer any further threat. Were their minds already turning to the big F A Cup game next Sunday? Waite missed a simple header which could have made the scoreline worse.
Burke felt we played very well for an hour with some good football played on the ground but was very disappointed with the reaction after conceding the second goal. So the league position remains a worry but there are still 30 games to go to turn things around. Special mention should be made of Forde who worked tirelessly and produced his best performance in a Hitchin shirt.
So now for two contrasting cup games with Tring visiting Top Field on Wednesday in the Herts Senior Cup while Solihull Moors await next Sunday when Top Field should be full to the rafters.
Singh, Green, Gough, Beswick, Kettle, Jemson, Green, Verma, Lait, Magunda, Waite. Subs Townnrow, Clement for Beswick 88, Moore, Dunkley for Green 69, Johnson for Waite 88.
Johnson, Anderson, Chesmain, Spring, Webb, Ferrell, Cain, Smith, Forde, Galliford, Bickerstaff Subs Charles, Fraser for Anderson 48, Mongoy for Forde 77, Tshikala, McCaffrey for Fraser 60
TAMWORTH: Magunda and Singh