FIXTURES

  • Saturday 24 October away to Bromsgrove League kick off 3.00pm.
  • Monday 26 October home to Royston League kick off 7.45pm. Tickets must be bought online by clicking here – there is no cash payment on the day.

ROYSTON ON MONDAY
The mascot for our game with Royston on Monday will be none other than Teddy Donnelly who will be returning to Top Field, the scene of his sponsored walk that raised over £2,000 for our Crowdfunder. Please give Teddy the big reception that he deserves to thank him for his great achievement.

At half time on Monday we will carry out the draw for the renaming of our main stand. Seventeen entries were made as part of the Crowdfunder and there will be one winner with the other sixteen getting a pitchside advertising board for a year. We thank all seventeen for their support.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS FRIENDLY
On Tuesday Hitchin travelled to Stotfold to play a behind closed doors friendly. It gave Mark Burke the opportunity to give valuable match time to a number of players who have not been playing regularly. Hitchin won 2-0 with goals from Steve Cawley and Josh Caldicott-Stevens.

STEVE SHEA
Last Saturday at Stratford I was really pleased to meet up with ex Canary Steve Shea. Steve played 106 games for Hitchin between 1988 and 1995 scoring six goals. He moved to the midlands after leaving Hitchin and is currently a scout for Leicester City. He has very fond memories of his time at Hitchin and considers his spell at Top Field as his most enjoyable time in football. As the Stratford game progressed he was remembering memorable games he played in and was very complimentary about Mark Burke who was one of his defensive partners. So often I find that when I meet former Hitchin players they only have good things to say about their time at Top Field and Steve was no exception. He told me that he hopes to come to a game at Hitchin in the near future.

SKY SPORTS RETURN TO HITCHIN
We’re very excited to announce that Sky Sports will be coming back down to Top Field for our game with Royston Town next week. They will be filming a follow up mini-documentary episode looking at non-league football. Congratulations to Matt Furniss from our social media team who was instrumental in making this happen.

COACHES’ NOTES WITH BRETT DONNELLY
Mark Burke was unavailable to travel to Stratford for the game on Saturday. This meant that on Thursday night after training Mark, Adam Parker and myself had a discussion about the team selection and tactics to be employed. We were mindful that we have been conceding too many goals and we knew Dan Webb was injured. We decided to bring Samuel Okoye-Ahaneku in as a central defender and deploy Lawrie Marsh in midfield. The three of us agreed the team and the shape we would employ.

Before the game Adam and I told the players it was critical to be really tight in the first fifteen minutes and to avoid any red cards. The game started better than we could have hoped with a very early penalty awarded after an obvious foul. I was very surprised that not even a yellow card was shown to the goalkeeper and he went on to save the penalty and gave a man of the match performance.

The quality of our football in the first half was as good as in any game this season with good passing and decision making together with a good work rate. We deserved the two goal lead at half time and emphasised to the players to not give anything away in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the second half and try and get the third goal to kill the game off. We had good chances to get the third goal but did not take them and Stratford scored a goal from a set piece that we should have defended better. An unnecessary sending off then really put us under pressure but we deservedly held on and I was really pleased with the way the players stepped up to the plate when the going got tough. After the stirring comeback against Leiston this performance will further help our confidence.

MARK BURKE ON BROMSGROVE AND ROYSTON

BROMSGROVE

I am looking forward to the trip to Bromsgrove on Saturday. There is always a great atmosphere at Bromsgrove and despite the attendance being restricted to 600 I am sure it will be no different. We will be looking to emulate our performance last season when we won 2-1 in front of a crowd of 966. We know it will be a tricky encounter but it is important we maintain our unbeaten sequence to continue building our confidence.

I think the League is the tightest I have ever known and this is confirmed when you look at the table and it would appear that any result is possible at the moment.

ROYSTON

Hopefully we will have returned from Bromsgrove with at least a point and we can use the performance as a springboard for the Royston game. Despite their position in the lower half of the table they have only lost one game and they have a squad of very talented players. Historically games between Hitchin and Royston are close affairs and I can see Monday’s game continuing this trend.

FA YOUTH CUP REPORT BY PIPEMAN

WINSLOW UNITED 4 HITCHIN TOWN 3

This was a peach of a cup tie of incessant attacking football and thoroughly exciting stuff was served up throughout, with the hosts deservedly earning their reward of a home tie in the next round against Charlton Athletic.

A decent attendance, with a fair sprinkling of away support was soon enthralled with the attacking flair shown by both teams, with Kye Tearle, who had distinguished himself in the last round away at AFC Dunstable soon testing the home keeper with a free-kick. Another was blocked following a smart move from Luca Cardines. It was soon clear that the hosts wanted to maximise their home advantage and they settled well and they soon realised that their visitors looked vulnerable to crosses from either flank.

In what was a frantic opening, there were possibilities for both teams but it was the hosts who opened the scoring, following a corner after eighteen minutes, and the home number nine fired in a low shot that trickled into the net after Dan Weaver’s bold attempt to prevent the goal.

Within a couple of minutes Hitchin were level , courtesy of a good finish by Nathan Wing. This appeared to be more than a mere reassertion as Hitchin began to look the more dangerous and , again following a corner and a free-kick Tearle emulated his feats against Dunstable with a simply superb goal after twenty-eight minutes. It looked, initially that Hitchin were going to sustain the initiative, but in many ways that was the best it really got for the Canaries as for the remainder of the half and for much of the second,Winslow exerted pressure, with sustained attacks, somewhat aided by Hitchin’s predilection to lose possession at vital moments. Forward moves were intercepted by United and their counter moves were urgent and effective.

There was a fine shot from Tearle that was well saved, but that was an isolated moment as the hosts hogged possession and sought what seemed to be an inevitable equaliser. Hitchin toiled in defence but could not prevent the equaliser some two minutes before the interval. It seemed a replicated move of the first goal and again Weaver’s bold attempt to make the save was in vain and once more the ball seemed to trickle over the line. It was with the run of play and it was Hitchin who were anxious for the interval.

Winslow ended the half on a rampant note, with Weaver needing to punch away an exuberant attempt from a late corner. I imagine Hitchin manager Damon Lathrope would use the break to point out his team’s shortcomings in terms of sacrificing possession and being vulnerable to the counter move. It seemed to me that the key moment was when Hitchin had taken the lead – for the only time in the game. They needed to consolidate, play for sustained possession to contain the urgency of the hosts. The question was could Winslow maintain their pressure in the second half and the answer was yes they could and, at times, with consummate ease. Apart for a rally all too late in the game, Hitchin were second best in the second half, where each attack from Winslow had the strong suggestion that they would add to their tally – which of course they did, twice. But even when it seemed they were cruising to victory there was that late rally from Hitchin that brought a goal , but time was not on their side.

But it was still all square and we wondered if Hitchin could reassert themselves – which they found increasingly difficult. Barely ten minutes of the half had been played when the hosts stormed once more into the lead. Weaver and his defence were kept busy and under strain. A fine shot from Winslow was deflected for a corner and from this a fine header made it 3-2. Tearle was looking quite unsettled since his influence had waned and a rash challenge earned him a yellow card – and it seemed he was fortunate not to be dismissed as following his tackle the assistant referee shouted ‘red card’ to the referee who contented himself by giving Tearle a lecture and producing just a yellow card.

The free kick for Winslow was just on the ‘D’ and another goal looked a distinct possibility, but Weaver saved well. There was a wild shot wide from Joe Warne, and more accurate efforts from the hosts saw either the cross bar cleared or Weaver performing heroics. A free kick from Tearle saw a Hitchin header saved , but after about seventy minutes came the killer fourth goal after a smart cut in from the right saw a masterly finish.

It was no more than Winslow deserved, they continued to be the more creative and threatening in front of goal, exerting continual pressure and looking for defensive errors. Although Hitchin looked somewhat in disarray, there was a decent a shot from Cardines, and Flavius Drescanu’s effort was competently blocked. Weaver was there to make two more vital saves. But in the last ten minutes or so there came this late rally from Hitchin and a goal from, I think, Cardines in a crowded penalty area saw the ball trickle home and the script called for a dramatic equaliser that might send the game to penalties.

I will say, sotto voce that it would have seemed something of an injustice to the hosts had this occurred as they were the better team overall, and the best I can say is that Hitchin gamely tried to snatch the equaliser -but they were thwarted by some effective if anxious defending. Time ran out for Hitchin and the hosts clearly enjoyed their prestigious win and I for one wish them all the very best in their tie against Charlton Athletic.

It had been a good game, fiercely contested, but curiously it seemed to fall away from Hitchin once they had taken the lead – and they found it so hard to cope with the grit, guts and determination of the Winslow boys. But, what a game, what a cup tie.

HITCHIN TOWN
Dan Weaver, Joe Warne, Tyrese Oates. Stanley Georgiou, Marlow Gough, Kye Tearle GOAL, 28 MINUTES, cautioned, Nathan Wing, GOAL, 20 MINUTES, Nikolay Rusev, captain, Flavius Drescanu, cautioned, Luca Cardines, GOAL, 84 MINUTES, Carlos Acosta- Clark. There was one substitute used but he emerged with no number on his shirt and so I could not identify him – apologies.
Substitutes: Scott Wilson, Cameron Francis, Rajveer Samra, Raymond John, Ansu Koroma, Harvey Stock, Luke Wright.

REFEREE: Mr Neo Neophytou, who had a good game. I have no details of his assistants – apologies.

BY Roy Izzard