Gallery: Hitchin win Arlesey battle
Arlesey Town 1 Hitchin Town 2 ZAK Burke was the hero for Hitchin Town in their tough local derby though he had a helping hand from one of Arlesey s own. Burke s 81st minute corner was turned into his own goal by Arlesey keeper Ian Brown sparking the kin
Arlesey Town 1 Hitchin Town 2
ZAK Burke was the hero for Hitchin Town in their tough local derby though he had a helping hand from one of Arlesey's own.
Burke's 81st minute corner was turned into his own goal by Arlesey 'keeper Ian Brown sparking the kind of celebrations players reserve for such important moments during the business end of the season.
Before the match the hosts, in addition to bragging rights for the next few weeks should they have won, had an outside chance of still making the play-offs as they looked to hunt down Slough Town, but after this loss the gap of 15 points appears too much.
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The three points, meanwhile, sees Hitchin remain three points behind league leaders Bury Town with a game in hand and one behind second-placed Burnham who they trail by three games and play on the last game of the season.
Arlesey began the game on the front foot and Chris Marsh looked to carve the Canaries open but the former Hitchin man's effort was saved by Martin Bennett.
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Marsh then had a header cleared off the line before former Hitchin favourite Zema Abbey also went close with a diving header.
Hitchin, though, have some pretty nifty strikers themselves this season in Harry Hunt and Jamie Arlick and it was Arlick who almost put his side ahead but saw his volley blocked before he did find the back of the net on 33 minutes.
Midfielder Richard Howell, who has been the architect of many Hitchin chances these past few weeks, hit his shot at goal only for Brown to parry the ball out to Arlick who turned his shot in off the post.
Arlesey's heads failed to drop and they thought they had equalised just two minutes later through the dangerous Marsh but although his effort found the back of the net the assistant referee had already waved his flag as the striker ran through on goal.
Hitchin remained a goal to the good for the remainder of the half and almost doubled their lead soon afterwards as both Hunt and Tony Fontenelle had opportunities blocked.
Marsh, too, had chances but both times Bennett was able to get between ball and goal but on the 68th minute the 'keeper was unable to stop Adam Watkins' effort as the Arlesey man received the ball on the edge of the box before beating a couple of Hitchin defenders and shooting past Bennett.
Despair for one goalkeeper was mirrored just 13 minutes later at the other end when Brown handed Hitchin the victory though to be fair to the Arlesey 'keeper he did do the best to make amends late on when he prevented Ieuan Lewis and Arlick from adding a Hitchin third.
Arlesey: Brown, Sinclair, Turner (Garner, 81), Leach, Kavanagh, Gregson, Watkins, Reynolds, Abbey, Marsh, O'Sullivan (Frater, 58).
Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Fontenelle, Williams, Smith, Gilbert, Lewis, Stevenson (Lee 75), Arlick, Hunt (Hammond, 75), Howell (Burke, 66).