FIXTURE
Saturday 17 October away to Stratford Town league kick-off 3.00pm.
There is no midweek game.

ATTENDANCES
Wearing my treasurer’s hat I have been really encouraged by the attendances at our opening three games. We started with 425 against Alvechurch, followed by 410 against Needham Market and a really impressive 523 against Leiston. It means we are currently fifth in the average attendance league table. Had we played Leiston on a Saturday last season we would probably have struggled to get a crowd of 350.

There is no doubt the ban on supporters attending Premier League, EFL League and National League games has been beneficial to teams like Hitchin. To see live football now supporters of teams in those leagues are having to come to our level and it really does help not only the atmosphere at games but our cash flow.

It has been really pleasing to see how readily supporters have embraced buying tickets online and it has benefitted us in not having to handle cash receipts from a security and safety point of view. I would also like to thank all supporters who have so readily accepted and adhered to our new Covid-19 regulations in the ground and in the clubhouse. Our Covid officer David Tudball and his team of volunteers put countless hours in to devising the most effective system and it is really gratifying to see supporters follow the guidelines.

CROWDFUNDER UPDATE BY PAUL SPRAGUE AND KATE DELLER
The Crowdfunder committee met last week to review progress and continue planning for delivery of the ground improvement works as well as ensuring we are on track to deliver the Rewards everyone had selected during the campaign. In terms of Rewards – we will be contacting everyone who selected a Reward to confirm any details required and keep you updated with progress.

As a committee we are all very aware of our responsibility to ensure every penny that has been pledged is spent wisely and delivers the vital improvements required in the most efficient way. As such, the last few weeks have involved lots of detailed planning and assessment of options and prices for the various works on the list. There is a great deal of effort that is going in to the planning, pricing and co-ordinating of the various tradespeople involved. The works will take place over a number of months and we will ensure we keep you updated as they progress both via the weekly bulletin and on our social media channels.

Over the past week B & D Engineering have been at Top Field hard at work replacing the external cladding to the office at the Canary Club and completing internal improvements to the physio room. Plans are now well advanced for several other jobs and in the next couple of months some of the works we are hoping to complete include:

  • Installation of new storage shed for the groundstaff
  • Demolition of the former tea bar at the rear of the main stand
  • Concrete repairs to various areas of damaged pathways around the ground
  • Replacement of external access gates at various locations around the ground
  • Replacement of the guttering to the rear of the main stand to prevent rainwater flooding into the changing rooms and physio room

We hope you continue to enjoy seeing the improvements we make to Top Field over the course of the season.

JOHN WOODWARD
The funeral of ex Canary John Woodward took place this week. Only family members were allowed to attend the service but it was relayed to mourners outside who included Mark Burke, Tony Luff and Ian Stratford. Luton legend Wayne Turner gave the eulogy which was both moving and humorous.

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE

LEISTON
We started brightly against Leiston on Saturday. Indeed but for two excellent saves from Leiston goalkeeper Sam Donkin it could have been like the Alvechurch game when we went ahead early in the game. But Leiston then took the lead with a very well worked goal and unfortunately this was a big set- back to us and we became anxious and stopped playing the way we had at the start of the game. I put this down to our fragile confidence having conceded 12 goals in the previous two games despite playing well.

We did have a great opportunity to equalise before half time but Donkin made another good save. The second half opened evenly and we certainly improved our work rate although the quality of our passing was still below par. We then made a bad mistake which gifted Leiston a second goal but the reaction from the players was a very positive one. Despite their fragility they showed a never-say-die attitude and produced a stirring comeback to secure a point and end that losing run.

I would like to thank our supporters who created a good atmosphere in the ground and definitely aided our fightback.

STRATFORD
Stratford have started the season well and in Ashley Sammons they have one of the best midfield players in the league. We know we will be in for a tough game But I am hoping our confidence will have been boosted by last Saturday’s grandstand finish. Jhai Dhillon will be missing due to business commitments but hopefully Jack Green will be able to join the squad.

FA YOUTH CUP REPORT BY PIPEMAN

AFC DUNSTABLE 0 HITCHIN TOWN 2
It was a case of game, set piece and match for Hitchin Town’s young guns in a fine , well attended game at Creasey Park against a strong and well-disciplined AFC Dunstable side. The game was as tight as a drum until Kye Tearle’s memorable free kick ended the deadlock, that had lasted well over an hour with little to choose between the teams.

In a lively start, both teams tried to break free of a somewhat combative midfield, but most goal attempts were neatly nipped in the bud. An early free kick from the as yet unleashed Tearle cleared the cross bar and a decent shot from Nikolay Rusev was only just wide. A following free-kick from Tearle was straight at the keeper – but we moved into a stage where Dunstable were having a slight edge in the creative midfield play and this afforded some chances – in particular for their lively number eight.

There was an amusing moment when Luca Cardines unwittingly deceived the home keeper but he had his back to the ball and did not realise what an opportunity had come his way. But the best chance of this blistering first half fell to Dunstable when a cross for their number nine was well met but the shot was inaccurate.

Hitchin forced successive corners that were well defended, AFC had a fair shot go wide and there was a soft shot from Marlow Gough that was easy for the goalie. It was good, cup-tie football and the game was superbly controlled by referee Stuart Smith, who explained every decision and at a good rate of decibels for us on the terraces. It was no great surprise that the half ended without goals. The football had been probing and earnest and the teams were very evenly matched. I chatted to Fixtures Secretary Chris Newbold and we were in broad agreement that not only would there probably be just one goal in this game and that would be likely to come from a set piece. We were partially correct.

Dunstable resumed play with some positive moves with one shot that brought a corner and another that was a whisker wide of the target. Hitchin were called upon to defend and there were some anxious moments as the hosts pressed. The visitors made a substitution with Harvey Stock coming on for Luke Wright. There was a deflected shot for AFC that Dan Weaver was alert to. The pattern of the first half had been replicated but then Tearle, after good work on the ball was fouled, gaining a free-kick in an advantageous position.

We had played sixty-seven minutes and here was the set piece we had anticipated. It was a perfect free-kick and the jubilation of the Hitchin players was a mixture of joy and relief. They had been pushed hard but at last they had penetrated that disciplined AFC defence. Tearle’s potential has been acknowledged by the Hitchin first team manager who has astutely given this exciting young player some first team experience – but for me the pride of his grandfather after the game was priceless.

Tearle, his confidence boosted, then tried a cheeky shot from range that was well worth the effort, despite the home goalkeeper’s nonchalance. Dunstable had no option but to step up a gear with the possibility of leaving a gap at the back but they ran Hitchin close. They had a free-kick where their number twelve shot wide and Joe Warne blocked a shot with grim determination. Hitchin needed to defend precisely, but they were kept very busy in what was a crucial part of the game. It looked increasingly possible that Dunstable would weave their way through the stubborn defence.

After the opening goal, Hitchin brought on Carlos Acosta-Clark for Morgan Sealby, who had put in a decent shift. Dunstable had a free-kick, wide on the left that was beaten away, and then they very nearly equalised but Weaver just managed to put the ball out for a corner. In a quick break we saw a shot from Rusev, but the attacking initiative was with AFC who pressed valiantly for an equaliser ans time ticked.

As often happens in games of this nature, the team trailing commits fully and leaves a space, a window of opportunity and with four minutes of normal time to go, Acosta-Clark put matters beyond doubt with a splendid goal from some range. Dunstable had risked and were outdone, but their contribution to this game was immense – they had played well but just lacked the killer touch in front of goal and had seen their best opportunities fall on barren ground.

Hitchin had deserved their victory and had been made to work for it – which is as it should be. It had been a fine game overall and we look forward to seeing further progress in this prestigious competition.

HITCHIN TOWN
Daniel Weaver, Tyrese Oates, Stanley Georgiou, Marlow Gough, cautioned, Kye Tearle, GOAL, 67 MINUTES, , Man of the Match, Nikolay Rusev, captain, Luke Wright, (Harvey Stock), Flavius Drescanu, Luca Cardines, Morgan Seaby, (Carlos Acosta-Clark, GOAL, 86 MINUTES, Joe Warne.
Unused substitutes: Rajveer Samra, Raymond John, Cameron Francis, Ansu Koroma and Scott Wilson.

Referee: Stuart Smith – an outstanding official. No details available for his assistants.

FA YOUTH CUP DRAW
Hitchin will be away to Winslow in the third qualifying round which will take place next Thursday. There is a big incentive for our youngsters because if they win they will be at home to Charlton Athletic in the first round proper.

BY ROY IZZARD