Evo-Stik Red Insure Cup Round One
HITCHIN TOWN 2 ST NEOTS TOWN 0
St Neots followed up potentially their best performance of the season away at Stourbridge with what was definitely their worst at Hitchin where they bowed out of the Red Insure Cup. It was their third cup defeat in just 24 days and leaves the Hunts Senior Cup as their only opportunity of silverware this season. Manager Iain Parr succinctly summed up the performance after the match when he said ‘tonight we got what we deserved – nothing’. That was truer than he thought because it was the first time in 15 league and cup matches this season that his side had failed to score a goal and to make matters worse they played for 73 minutes against ten men. The evening began badly with the news that defender Arthur Lee was ill and was to miss his first match of the season and with Gavin Hoyte still nursing injury it let in Mawefe Nkinga for his first senior outing for the club. Jack Werndly came into the side for only his second start replacing Adeyoye Yusuff who was on the bench. However they are no excuses for what was a very shoddy performance and of course the result gave Hitchin a league and cup double over their visitors.
In front of a very sparse crowd leading home scorer John Frendo spurned the first chance of the match heading directly into Michael Duggan’s arms from close range and then recently transferred Saint, Callum Stewart sent a fierce shot into a defensive wall. The game exploded after 17 minutes when Lewis Hilliard went clear but was deliberately hauled down from behind by defender Josh Bickstaff who earned a straight red card. The resultant free kick from a few inches outside the penalty area was sent high over the bar by Dan Jacob and Hitchin swiftly reshuffled their side. Three minutes later Nkinga made his only mistake of the game failing to clear the ball and Daniel Delderfield broke down the right to beat Duggan from a narrow angle to open the scoring. Within a minute a scuffle between Callum Donnelly and Jack Werndly saw them both cautioned and the game become very scrappy. Only a brave point blank save by Duggan denied Delderfield a second goal and St Neots best chance six minutes before the break saw emergency defender Liam McGovern clear off the line after Mackey’s shot had beaten Bennett. Mackey then had a low shot well saved by the keeper with neither side managing to create clear openings.
St Neots needed a positive approach after the break but their usual midfield domination in the form of Thorne and Davies was missing with the home pair of Donnelly and Stewart in control. Duggan denied Delderfield a second goal with an acrobatic tip over his bar but it was in vain for after 57 minutes John Frendo extended Hitchin’s lead with a surprise 30 yards lob catching Duggan too far off his line. St Neots introduced Lewis and Yusuff for Adjei and Werndly but made little significant headway and is was difficult to realise that St Neots had a one man advantage that was never apparent. Mackey headed disappointingly over the bar after good work by Yusuff but at the other end Nkinga head to clear off the line to deny Frendo a second goal. In the last twenty minutes St Neots did rally taking advantage of their tiring opponents and Mackey brought a fine double save from Bennett. Gent then headed over from a Hilliard cross and Yusuff shot wide. Donnelly cleared another effort from Yusuff off the line and ironically Gent did force the ball over the line in time added but saw his effort ruled out for an infringement. St Neots can now concentrate on the League !!
St Neots: Duggan, Duncliffe, Jacob, Thorne, Gent, Nkinga, Hilliard, Davies, Werndly, Mackey, Adjei.
Subs: Lewis (for Adjei 56 mins), Yusuff (for Werndly 56 mins), Felix (for Hilliard 78 mins) Jenkins & Banthorpe.
Cards: Werndly (Y- 21), Gent (Y – 36), Davies (Y – 40), Thorne (Y – 80)
Hitchin: Bennett, Webb, Bickerstaff, Leach, Gilbert, Lee, Donnelly, Stewart, Delderfield, Frendo, McGovern.
Subs: Burke (for Frendo 80 mins), Stewart, Lincoln, Lewis & Pedrycz.
Cards: Bickerstaff (Red – 17), Donnelly (Y – 21), Frendo (Y – 41)
Referee: D.Robathan (Bedford)