Hitchin Town 0-1 Slough Town: Poppies beat Canaries as Mark Burke’s boys face big week

PUBLISHED: 11:37 17 April 2018

Charlie Smith battles with former Canary Matt Lench against Slough. Credit Peter Else

Charlie Smith battles with former Canary Matt Lench against Slough. Credit Peter Else

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Hitchin Town lost 1-0 at home to Slough Town at Top Field on Monday evening.

For the second time in three days, Hitchin Town fell to a side chasing promotion via the play-offs.

Kettering Town brushed the Canaries aside in their 4-1 win on Saturday, with Poppies’ striker Aaron O’Connor scoring all four and Josh Bickerstaff grabbing a late consolation from the spot.

The only goal was claimed by former Canary Matt Lench in the 70th minute.

Until that point, Hitchin had kept the game tight and denied the Rebels through a mixture of dogged defending, wayward finishing and a little luck.

Mark Burke rang the changes from Saturday’s defeat with Josh Mollison in goal joined by Daniel Olaniran, Kevin Byrne, Hugo Logan and Patrick Tshikala.

Slough, who had secured their play-off place on Saturday, started positively with Warren Harris looking dangerous on the right flank.

However, they struggled to break the deadlock and Mollison showed confident handling as he saved from Harris and Lench. When he was beaten, Lewis Rolfe was on hand to clear off the line.

Hitchin had to play on the break with Tshikala chasing every long ball. The best first half chances for the hosts were efforts wide from Olaniran and Connor Vincent.

The second half saw further Slough pressure and Perry Coles - who had scored against the Canaries for Farnborough earlier this season - blazed over after a string of corners.

At the other end, Jake Turner pulled off the best save of the night as he tipped away a fierce free kick from Charlie Smith. However with twenty minutes to go, the vital blow was struck as substitute Chris Flood met a deep cross. His effort was on target but Lench made sure of the winning goal with the final touch.

Jonny McNamara had a chance to level almost immediately as he got past Nisbet only to lose control of the ball. Then Hugo Logan fired over after good work by Smith and McNamara. Turner saved once more from Smith but there was no sting in the tail and Slough saw the game out to boost their chances of a home semi-final in the playoffs.

Hitchin host Didcot Town in the BigFreeBet League Cup Final against Didcot Town on Wednesday evening. Due to printing deadlines the match report and reaction will appear in next week’s CometSport.

They then return to Top Field for the third of five consecutive home games a week Saturday for their fifth clash of the season with Bishops Stortford.

Burke’s side will then host Dorchester Town on Monday, April 23 in their penultimate home fixture.

The Canaries have also pencilled in their eagerly-awaited clash with Hereford FC at Top Field after three postponements, with the date announced as Wednesday, April 25 which will be their final home game of the season.

*The club’s U13 Eastern Junior Alliance squad has reached the Hertfordshire FA County Cup Final on Sunday, April 29 against Maccabi London Lions U13 at the County Ground Letchworth, kick off tbc.

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