Blunt Blues well beaten by the Canaries
By Andy Chilton
Lacklustre Town second best in Hertfordshire
Match Report by KEVIN HAND, Match Stats by CHRIS SIMPSON, Photographs by GRANTY
Hitchin Town 2 v 0 Stratford Town HT (0-0)
Saturday 23 February, 2019 3.00pm EvoStik Premier Division Central
• O, call back yesterday….
Head of Football, Thomas Baillie, had promised changes following recent disappointments and this was evidenced by a starting formation of 3-5-2, a dropping to the bench of Carvalho and Grocott and a new goalkeeper, Laurence Bilboe, on loan from Rotherham. After a fabulous run of form in January February has proved a greater challenge Town, winning one, drawing one and losing three with a net goal deficit of 7-2. By contrast Hitchin are in a rich run of form. FA Cup heroes from earlier this season they’ve now won 6 out of 7 since losing 2-0 at the Arden Garages Stadium back in January.
On a gorgeous early spring afternoon Town kicked off towards the Clubhouse end and opened brightly. On 2 minutes the persistent Kynan Isaac won a corner on the left. Ross Oulton’s cross was safely gathered by keeper, Michael Johnson. Later, Oulton was to earn a yellow (28 minutes) as he attempted to energise and drive mid-field. On 19 minutes good work from Creaney set up Shariff and his goal-bound shot was well saved by Johnson.
The experiment with 3-5-2 seemed to be abandoned as early as 20 minutes as Wilson and Cox changed roles on the right. After injuries and substitutions later in the game Wilson was also to assume the role of left wingback – truly Mr. Versatile! In truth Hitchin were playing with greater fluency and they dominated possession easily winning the ‘corner count.’ On 21 minutes McAteer and Wilson had to be brave to block Alfie Cue.
The defining moment of the first half came on 45 minutes. Town won a free kick just inside the Hitchin half. Oulton hit a firm, low pass into the path of Isaac who strode forward before fizzing in a drive that hit the underside of the bar before bouncing to safety.
The early minutes of the second half saw the game open up and Cox fired in a left-footed drive that was safely gathered by Johnson at second attempt. This was to be Town’s only shot on target for the half. Hitchin took the lead on 63 minutes after winning a corner on the right. Galliford’s corner cleared everyone but found Noah Chesmain lurking out wide on the left. He quickly controlled the ball before hitting a ‘screamer’ that hit the bar and clearly crossed the line before bouncing to safety. Never was the truism of ‘fine margins’ better demonstrated than here.
As Hitchin continued to boss the game Cox was superb in blocking a goal bound effort but Ezra Forde sealed the victory on 81 minutes when he skipped through from broken play to score emphatically. Town never gave up (substitute Carvalho fired narrowly over from a free kick) but Hitchin was firmly in control and fully deserved the 3 points.
• O, call back yesterday, bid time return. Richard11 Act 3 Scene 2
Match Stats by CHRIS SIMPSON
| Hitchin|| Stratford|
| 16||Goal Attempts|| 6|
| 7||On Target|| 3|
| 2||Blocked Shots|| 0|
| 0||Hit Woodwork|| 1|
| 8||Corners Won|| 3|
| 6||Crosses into Box|| 8|
| 8||Fouls Conceded|| 10|
| 3||Off Side|| 2|
| 2||Yellow Cards|| 4|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Man of the Match: Kynan Isaac
Saturday 02 March Barwell (A) 3.00pm Evo Stik PDC
Saturday 09 March AFC Rushden and Diamonds (H) 3.00pm EvoStik PDC