Frome 3-4 Hitchin: That’s entertainment as Canaries win thriller

PUBLISHED: 12:49 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:49 27 November 2017

Frome v Hitchin Town. Credit Peter Else

Frome v Hitchin Town. Credit Peter Else

Archant

As this game ended ’That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam was played over the PA system.

It was an appropriate choice for an incredible game as Frome came back from 3-0 down to draw level – only for the Canaries to break their hearts with a fourth to seal the victory.

It was a game containing seven goals, seven bookings, a disputed red card, a penalty, a goalkeeper coming close to scoring and a refereeing performance which exasperated both teams in an action packed 90 minutes – with a further six minutes of stoppage time to add to the tension.

It all seemed a far cry from the pessimism of fans before the game as they made the long trek to Frome with low expectations as an injury crisis had decimated manager Mark Burke’s options.

On the bench Hitchin could only name three substitutes – Trey Charles who was not fit enough to play a full game, Kieran Barnes who had been recalled from Stotfold and Academy player Desejado Da Silva who has yet to make his debut.

Kavan Cotter, Jack Green and Jay Dowie were out injured along with Kieran McCaffrey while Ben Walster was suspended and Callum Donnelly had left the club, even if he would have been suspended anyway.

Burke reshaped the back four with Toby Syme coming in at right back and Josh Bickerstaff moving to left back with Lewis Rolfe partnering Dan Webb in central defence. Elliot Bailey played on the right in midfield with Jonny McNamara on the left and Lucas Kirkpatrick and Charlie Smith playing centrally while Connor Vincent played just behind Brett Donnelly up front.

The pitch was not conducive to passing football as it was sticky with the grass quite long and very often players needed to dig the ball out.

But despite their problems Hitchin made a confident start.

In the fourth minute Vincent turned sharply to force a good save from Kyle Phillips after a good lay off from Donnelly. Smith produced a long range shot on target but Michael Johnson then made a good save from Ollie Knight.

Hitchin went ahead after 13 minutes and it followed a sharp move involving McNamara and Bickerstaff which ended with the ball reaching Bailey and he produced a brilliant finish from 20 yards.

Bailey seems to have the knack of scoring memorable goals and this was his eleventh goal of the season.

Johnson saved a free kick from George Miller before the referee Martin Underhay made his first intervention by booking Donnelly and Johnson in quick succession. After Webb was just wide from a McNamara cross Vincent went in the book for reasons only Mr Underhay could explain.

Hitchin got their second goal after a Smith corner found Bickerstaff whose shot was dummied by Vincent leaving Phillips unsighted and it got even better for Hitchin two minutes later when Syme found Donnelly who set up Vincent for an assured finish. To be 3-0 up with the makeshift nature of the team was beyond all expectations but unfortunately in the 45th minute Smith was adjudged to have brought down Jon Davies. Davies took the penalty himself and sent Johnson the wrong way to give Frome some hope for the second half.

Donnelly was injured and replaced by Charles after 56 minutes. It may have been a blessing as with a card happy ref Brett was going to be walking a tightrope having already been booked.

On 70 minutes Mr Underhay produced a straight red card for a challenge by Mitchell Page on Webb. He indicated it was for a deliberate elbow but both sides thought the decision harsh. Rather than deflate Frome the red card had the opposite affect and they decided to throw caution to the wind and play an all out attacking game. After 77 minutes a free kick was headed home by the unmarked Chas Hemmings to really put the pressure on Hitchin and then three minutes later Miller finished from close range after Hemmings had headed across goal.

It seemed the momentum would now be with Frome but Hitchin bravely fought back and in the next minute Vincent unleashed a magnificent shot from 20 yards giving Phillips no chance. This set Frome back but they did not give up and goalkeeper Phillips went up for corners shooting just wide in the second of six minutes of added time.

But Hitchin dug in and fully deserved the three points with a good all round team performance that showed no hangover from the Hereford defeat last week.

The small band of Hitchin supporters could rightfully feel proud of their team’s guts and determination at a venue where it is never easy to get a result.

It was a much needed away win as Hitchin had only been successful once in their previous nine away league games although it should be pointed out that four of these games were against top six teams. Hopefully Hitchin can now go on another unbeaten run and there is still plenty to play for this season.

Frome: Phillips, Miller, Withey, Teale, Page, Hemmings, Davies, Miller, Jackson, Raynes, Knight Subs Bath for Miller 85,Griffiths, Morgan, Cleverly

Hitchin: Johnson, Syme, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb, Kirkpatrick, Bailey, Vincent, Donnelly, McNamara, Smith Subs Charles for Donnelly 56, Barnes, Da Silva.

Scorers:

Frome: Davies pen, Hemmings, Miller

Hitchin: Bailey, Bickerstaff and Vincent(2)

Sending off

Page (Frome)

Bookings

Frome: Knight, Teale and Page

Hitchin: Donnelly, Johnson, Vincent and Syme

Attendance: 277

Roy Izzard

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