Saturday 17th August away to Alvechurch League kick-off 3.00pm. Coach leaves at 10am. No midweek fixture.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CUP
We have been drawn away to Welwyn Garden City in the Preliminary Round of the Southern League Cup. The game is due to be played on Tuesday 10 September.
It was good to see Carl Stock at Needham Market on Tuesday. Carl, who now lives in Bury St Edmonds, made 31 appearances for us and scored 6 goals over two seasons—1986/87 and 1991/92. He had even watched a couple of Needham’s pre-season games so he could give a scouting report to manager Mark Burke.
THANKS TO SUPPORTERS
It was great to see so many Hitchin supporters at Needham Market on Tuesday. Not an easy journey for an evening game but we had at least 50 supporters there and this was much appreciated by the club. The players in particular really appreciate such good support.
The journey home was horrendous due to the closure of the A14 and hopefully as many supporters make the trip to Alvechurch on Saturday and have an easier journey.
- Jay Bird will miss the Alvechurch game after coming off injured at Needham Market.
- Jack Green and Charlie Horlock will not be fit for the Alvechurch game.
- Jay Dowie has served his two match suspension and is available for the Alvechurch game.
- Charlie O’Keefe has decided to leave and we wish him well for the future.
UNDER 19 UPDATE
This has probably been the best year so far for recruitment for the college scheme. Head of youth development Damon Lathrope told me that they are three weeks in to their pre-season and he is really pleased with the progress the players have made. We had four players selected to represent the Pro Direct Select squad in a game against Stevenage scholars this week. Damon managed the Pro Direct side who won 6-1 and he said the Hitchin players did really well.
The first league game will be in late September.
MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE
The first game of the season is always a difficult affair and it was made more so on Saturday when we faced one of the favourites for the title in Stourbridge. To concede a goal in the first ten minutes made the task doubly difficult. However as the first half wore on we got back in to the game and finished it stronger than Stourbridge.
Unfortunately we conceded a well worked goal shortly after half time to go two goals down. I was very pleased with the reaction of the players as they showed a never say die attitude which saw us get back in the game and we scored a goal and really pushed Stourbridge to the limit right up to the end of the game. Having looked at the video replay I felt we were very unfortunate to have our late ”goal” disallowed.
I ended up with six teenagers on the pitch which certainly bodes well for the future. The work rate and determination shown by the side are part of the characteristics I am looking for.
Despite not winning on Tuesday night I think we can safely say we laid the ghost of Needham Market with a pleasing performance against a very good footballing side. We started off very brightly and scored an excellent goal within five minutes which gave us a platform to work on.
I felt for the majority of the first half we played some pleasing football and had at least two good chances to increase the lead. We were punished for not taking them by conceding the equaliser at a critical point one minute before the break.
The second half saw us required to defend more as Needham Market enjoyed a lot of possession. I thought we defended resolutely and looked dangerous on the counter attack. We suffered a blow losing Jay Bird through injury which could have knocked our rhythm but we went on to ground out a very creditable draw away from home.
We face a trip to Alvechurch on Saturday. Like us they have one point from two games. Looking at the results from the first two rounds of matches I think it is clear that this will be a very tight division. Not one team has lost both opening games which is very unusual.
The Alvechurch game will undoubtedly be another close contest and I will be very happy to return to Top Field with some reward.
BY ROY IZZARD