FIXTURES
Saturday 9 March away to Halesowen league kick off 3.00pm. Coach leaves at 10.30am.
There is no midweek fixture.

PLAYER NEWS

  • Lewis Ferrell received a two match suspension for his red card against Rushall. He will miss the games at Halesowen and Kings Lynn.
  • Dessie Da Silva has relocated to Newcastle. We wish him well in his future football career.
  • Harry Draper missed the Tamworth game with tonsillitis. He will be assessed before the Halesowen game.
  • Morgan Penfold missed the Tamworth game as he had played for Peterborough on Monday.
  • Alex Anderson and Matt Nolan are both stepping up their training but are not yet ready to return to action.
  • Michael Johnson will miss the Kings Lynn game after his red card against Tamworth after receiving a one match ban. With Josh Mollison injured we will need to get a goalkeeper on loan for the Kings Lynn game.
  • Jay Dowie did not start against Tamworth due to a heel injury but should be fit for Halesowen.

CHARITY SHIRT AUCTION
The auction for the blue goalkeeper shirt that Michael Johnson wore at Barwell in memory of Gordon Banks, has now commenced.

Details of the auction can be found via the following link: https://hitchintownfc.club/gordon-banks-shirt-auction/

All profits from the auction will go to MJ’s chosen Charity, ManKind Initiative. Details of the charity can be found via this link: https://www.mankind.org.uk

The current leading bid is £250.

EJA TEAM NEWS
There was just the one game at the weekend for our EJA teams and it didn’t go our way with the U14s losing their 100% home record going down to only their second league defeat of the season with a 3-1 defeat to Cheshunt FC.

The result put a dent in the boys league title challenge although the destination of the championship is still in their hands.

The damage was done in a lacklustre first half when Cheshunt raced into a 2-0 lead. Some swift substitutions and tactical changes steadied the ship and the score was the same when the players went into the half time break.

Following further changes made at the break the boys fared better in the second half, piling pressure on Cheshunt and it wasn’t long before the pressure brought reward with Kyle Devers scoring to reduce the deficit. Further chances came Hitchin’s way, Teague Gardiner hitting the post from close quarters with one such chance, but the equaliser just wouldn’t come.

With the score 2-1 and Hitchin pushing forward in an attempt to save the game, Cheshunt broke away in the final minute to seal their win.

To make matters worse, two Hitchin players were red carded after the final whistle and as a result, both will miss key games this month in the league run-in!

This weekend all four teams are in action.

The pick of the fixtures is the U18s Hertfordshire FA County Cup quarter final tie at home to Cheshunt Youth. Kickoff is 12:00pm at The Arena Baldock.

In the other fixtures, the U16s are away at Cheshunt in the league, 12:00 pm kickoff whilst the U14s have a home league fixture versus St. Albans City, 11:00 am kickoff at Ickleford Sports & Recreation Club and the U13s also have a league fixture, entertaining AFC Dunstable at North Herts College in a 12:30pm kickoff.

BY NICK CARR

HITCHIN TOWN LADIES FC
Hitchin Town Ladies FC v Biggleswade United Ladies

What a change in weather conditions in a week! It had gone from double figure temperatures to single figures and rain! With the Offley pitch just playable we took to the stage against Biggleswade United Ladies in the quarter finals of the Chris Renshaw Cup. With a handle of ex Hitchin Town Ladies players against us it was surely a game you did not want to miss!

Biggleswade got us underway and within the first five minutes it was Hitchin on top. A cross from Smith was picked up by the wind and sent out for a goal kick. Hitchin were on the attack again and the ball was put out for a Hitchin corner. Chaffey sent the ball into the box but it found the tallest player of Biggleswade to head away.

Biggleswade were on the attack and it was Hawkridge who knocked the ball out for a corner. Biggleswade took the corner and it found Smith who cleared the ball and led a Hitchin counter. The ball was switched to Winter who broke down the line. Winter sent the ball into the box but Chaffey leant back and headed just over the bar. The goalkeeper sent the ball through and Watson was upended and Hitchin won a free kick and it was Chaffey who sent the ball in, three Hitchin players closing in on the attack but the flag was quickly raised.

OFF THE LINE! Biggleswade with a shot on the edge of the box, it bounced off the cross bar and out! It was a decision for VAR but that is the thrill of grassroots football. Hitchin broke on the counter as Biggleswade were disputing with the referee and a ball was sent to Gash but a Biggleswade player nearly caught the ball on the half way line but the referee played on and the ball was played out for a Hitchin throw.
GOAL HITCHIN! A cross from Watson into the box should have been an easy collection for the keeper but she got her positioning wrong and Chaffey headed home. The pressure was on for Biggleswade who were losing their heads.
OFF THE POST! Hitchin were now picking up the tempo and broke through Smith. She struck the ball on the volley and it hit the inside of the far post and trickled across the goal line or maybe over! Who knows!

RED CARD! Ex player Kayleigh Saunders was shown a straight red for dissent to the referee. The match just got a lot harder for Biggleswade.

NO GOAL! Gash ran through and took the keeper on, she slide in and toe poked the ball past the keeper and into an empty net. The referee pulled up play for a foul on the keeper, not sure where the foul was but the goal was cancelled. Should be 3-0 Hitchin.

The last attack of the half fell to Hitchin and Smith played in Winter and she sent a ball across the face of the goal and the oncoming Hitchin players couldn’t get there quick enough.

Half Time.
It was a slow start to the second half and Huffer won a free kick after being kicked. She sent the ball down the line to Watson to win a corner. Chaffey sent it in and again the ball was cleared by the Biggleswade defender. Watson made way for Wyatt and got straight into action. Smith made way for Franklin and Hitchin were back on top.
Hitchin won a corner and it fell to Cain-Murnane who killed the ball dead on the edge of the box but shot just wide.

Hitchin started to wake up and picked up the tempo. Biggleswade started chasing shadows and just couldn’t stabilise themselves. Huffer made way for Smith and made an instant impact killing off a Biggleswade attack. Wyatt had established herself on the left wing with confidence growing taking on players and creating chances.
Chaffey had the opportunity to make it two but her header glanced wide.
Cain-Murnane and Chaffey made way for Simon & Watson to see out the rest of the game.

The referee blew for full time and it was Hitchin Town Ladies through to the next round of the Chris Renshaw Cup.
The ladies dug deep to see out what was a tricky game against Biggleswade. They defended well to keep the score line down.
Hitchin are through to the semi-final away to Garston Senior 2nd XI, date to be confirmed.
Hitchin return to Division Two action on Sunday 10th March 2019 against Watton Ladies FC at the Nigel Poulton Community Centre, 14:00 kick off.

Squad
N. Thompson
G. Winter
L. Huffer
A. Piper
J. Hawkridge
K. Smith
M. Cain-Murnane – Player of the game
B. Day
H. Watson
E. Chaffey
L. Gash
K. Simon
M. Franklin
L. Wyatt

BY CALLUM ELLIS

HITCHIN TOWN UNDER 19’S
The academy team were beaten 3-2 by Windsor on Wednesday. Next Wednesday 13 March they are at home to kings Langley at the Arena kick off 2.00pm.

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE

RUSHALL OLYMPIC
I felt we started on the front foot for the first 20 minutes but after Rushall scored it took the wind out of our sails. Rushall had come with a game plan to play on the counter attack and this proved effective. We found ourselves in the same situation as when we played St Ives earlier in the season where the players did not recognise the fact that Rushall were playing deep and there was no room in behind them. This meant that passes were being played long and in the air and were falling on the defenders’ heads. We needed to shorten our game down and play through the thirds but we failed to do this.

I could not fault the work rate of the players particularly when we were reduced to ten men but we had let our standards slip. This takes nothing away from Rushall who had some good players and managed the game well to win it. Combined with the number of stoppages made by the referee this did not allow us to get in to a rhythm to play with the tempo we like.

TAMWORTH
The Tamworth game saw a big improvement in our style of play where we were able to build from the back on more occasions than we did on Saturday. We should have taken the lead very early and this would have settled us down and knocked Tamworth’s confidence but as the first half proceeded Tamworth grew in to the game and began to cause problems.

We were solid in defence restricting Tamworth’s opportunities and the game was a very tight affair. As we have experienced on a number of occasions this season the game was decided by very fine margins and fortunately for us they were in our favour. Tamworth could argue they deserved a point but as I said earlier we have been in that position a number of times this season.

HALESOWEN
We travel to Halesowen on Saturday who are now under new management after a midweek change. This is never an ideal situation as players tend to respond positively to the change. Halesowen are a big club and we know we will be in for a battle as they look to avoid relegation.

BY ROY IZZARD