Gallery: Munday and Hammond seal points for Hitchin
Hitchin Town 2 Merthyr Tydfil 2 FOR the second home game in succession Hitchin took a share of the spoils after coming from behind against high-flying opposition. This time their opponents were fourth-placed Merthyr Tydfil, a team which had won three time
Hitchin Town 2 Merthyr Tydfil 2
FOR the second home game in succession Hitchin took a share of the spoils after coming from behind against high-flying opposition.
This time their opponents were fourth-placed Merthyr Tydfil, a team which had won three times in their last four visits to Top Field before the weekend.
As with Hitchin's 2-2 result against Corby a week ago, a point is a good result but its victories which are needed at this stage of the season as Colin Payne's team fight for their lives at the bottom of the Southern League First Division.
Hitchin have now gone seven games without a win since beating Hemel Hempstead 2-1 on January 1 but their performance on Saturday will offer a glimmer of hope that survival could still be on the cards.
After all, they've done it before.
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If they are to stay up then the partnership between the quick but diminutive Jeff Hammond and the giant Redwood of a striker Paul Olima could prove vital.
Olima, who was signed last week and became the 51st player to represent Hitchin in just 39 games this season, was a handful in the air until he was taken off for the fresh legs of Mark Barnes on 62 minutes, and Hammond seemed to scare the life out of the back four and keeper with his willingness to chase down lost causes.
It was Hammond who almost opened the scoring on five minutes when running on to a through ball hit the post, and although Merthyr had two good chances during the half - a header by Craig Steins and a volley over by Dean Clarke - Hitchin finished the stronger with Olima twice going close.
First he headed the ball against the bar from a Mark E'Beyer corner and moments later he sent a glancing header just wide after E'Beyer had once again providing the cross.
Hitchin did take the lead on 51 minutes when Jon Munday, making only his third appearance for the club, headed home at the far post after some good work by E'Beyer and Ashley Grinham on the right.
And the useful centre back almost made it two moments later when Hammond flicked on a long Grinham missile-like throw only for Munday to see his shot blocked in the box.
Steins then equalised for the visitors when he poked home the ball after Martin Bennett, back from injury, had parried a Sam O'Sullivan shot.
And the barrel-chested striker then made it five goals in five visits for him to Top Field when he headed home from six yards after Matt Harris crossed from the left.
Hitchin hit back straight away, just as they did when claiming a point against Corby last week.
A Grinham throw landed at the feet of Hammond who, after being pulled down from behind, managed somehow to get his foot on the ball and scoop it into the goal to the delight of the crowd.
Hammond then had a fantastic opportunity to put his team ahead just five minutes later when he ran onto a pass from Paul Marks, but with just the keeper to beat somehow he spooned the ball wide of the post when scoring would have been easier.
Merthyr had a goal rightfully ruled out for offside with just minutes left, leaving Hitchin's fans and players heading home with the belief that their luck just might be on the turn.
Next up for Hitchin is a six-pointer against second-from-bottom Mangotsfield United at Top Field on Saturday.
Hitchin: Bennett, Pepper, Grinham, Munday, McDevitt, Williams, Lewis, E'Beyer, Hammond (George, 87), Olima (Barnes, 62), Stevenson (Marks, 74).