St Neots Town FC 1 : 2 Hitchin Town
Match
35
St Neots Town FC 1 : 2
Hitchin Town
Tuesday 16 February, 2016 19:45

 

Southern League Premier Division

 

ST NEOTS TOWN       1         HITCHIN TOWN       2      

 

Hitchin recorded a fourth consecutive league victory to cement their place in the play offs at the expense of a very disappointing St Neots. Having said that the main shortcoming of the home side was their inability to create goal scoring opportunities on the back of a hard-working and fully committed performance in midfield and defence. Hitchin are amongst the leading group in the table on merit and it was to St Neots credit that they held their visitors to just two goals but the lack of goal scoring has to be the principle concern now and this match underlined the priority of replacing the departing Tom Meechan. Although Drew Roberts is back he has not struck up an understanding with Dipo Akinyemi and the visiting goalkeeper had very little to do throughout the entire ninety minutes. There was a new signing on view for the home side with Charlie Coulson from Ilkeston FC pitched in on the right of midfield with George Casey moving to full back. Also back in defence was Jamie Anton for Matt Smyth.

 

There was a sensational start to the match when in the first real action after just 44 seconds Josh Dawkin was fouled as he went into the penalty area and a spot kick was awarded.  Some discussion ensued about who would take the kick but Drew Roberts stepped up to beat Charlie Horlock and open the scoring with his first home goal since 18th April last year.  This was only his ninth start of the current season as he works his way back to somewhere near full fitness.  

 

Hitchin were taken aback by this turn of events and too some time to settle with their only goal attempt in the first 25 minutes a narrow angled shot by Brett Donnelly blocked by Andy Wilton. Peter Clark set up Dipo Akinyemi with a through ball but he overran it and Horlock saved at his feet but gradually the visitors found their rhythm with the lively Jonny McNamara shooting over the bar before bringing a good saved from Wilton. 

 

On the half hour a Lucas Kirkpatrick cross found the head of Brett Donnelly but his effort was too high and as St Neots were penned back late in the first half Hitchin created several chances. The best of these fell to Kieran Barnes from a Kirkpatrick corner but he placed his free header high over the bar. Hitchin’s most threatening moves all seemed to involve McNamara who was giving his marker Brett Longden a torrid time and the St Neots full back picked up a yellow card five minutes before the break.

 

The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw Hitchin camping in the St Neots half of the field and peppering the St Neots goal. Again the best chance fell to Brett Donnelly who headed tamely over the bar and both Barnes and McNamara failed to convert chances after neat approach work. St Neots reacted well under siege with Jamie Anton and Tom Ward doing well under pressure but after 58 minutes Hitchin levelled with a rather fortune goal when a Kane Smith cross beat all those in the six yards’ box and crept in at the far post with Wilton seeming to misjudge the flight of the ball.  

 

This gave the visitors confidence and they continued to dominate and after 72 minutes the pressure paid off as Jonny McNamara bundled the ball in from close range. From that point on Hitchin played with great composure slowing the game down and passing the ball around in midfield with the protection of their slender lead clearly their priority. St Neots huffed and puffed but never really threatened even though they went to three at the back and pushed Tom Ward up as an additional attacker. Even the late introduction of two teenagers failed to fire St Neots and they can have no real complaints – beaten by a side looking capable to go on to claim a play-off place and maybe even promotion at the end of the season.

 

 

 

St Neots:  Wilton, Casey, Longden, Tann, Ward, Anton, Coulson, Clark (P), Roberts, Akinyemi, Dawkin

 

Subs:  Ofosu (for Coulson 77), Hobbs (for Akinyemi 89), Nurettin, Rudman and Jeckells.

 

Cards:  Longden (Y – 40)

 

Goals:  Roberts – pen (2 mins)

 

 

 

Hitchin:  Horlock, Smith, Walster, Ann, Webb, Rolfe, McNamara, Donnelly (C), Donnelly (B), Barnes, Kirkpatrick

 

Subs:  Spence (for Barnes 71), Palmiero (for Donnelly (C) 90), Pearson, Wright and Johnson.

 

Cards:  none

 

Goals:  Smith (58 mins), McNamara (72 mins)

 

Attendance: 298

 

Referee: David Avent (Northampton)

 

 

 

John Walker