A late saviour
Hitchin Town 1 Cirencester 1 NEIL JENSEN reports RYAN Frater scored a controversial equaliser for the Canaries in the dying seconds of a game that seemed to have moved beyond Darren Salton s men. The draw extended Hitchin s unbeaten run to five games and
Hitchin Town 1 Cirencester 1
NEIL JENSEN reports
RYAN Frater scored a controversial equaliser for the Canaries in the dying seconds of a game that seemed to have moved beyond Darren Salton's men.
The draw extended Hitchin's unbeaten run to five games and underlined the determination that has characterised their season so far.
Frater's goal came just two minutes after he had come on as substitute - a seemingly strange move with the Canaries trailing to a workmanlike Cirencester side.
But it paid off and Salton appeared to have pulled off a master-stroke in bringing the big defender on.
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For much of this game, however, Hitchin struggled to deal with their opponents' defence.
The flowing football of previous weeks was there, but in the penalty area, Hitchin could not find a way past the Cirencester back line, and in particular imposing goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer.
Hitchin had countless half chances, but few where it really mattered.
In the first half, Chris Dillon was presented with an opportunity when Mark Ducket's free-kick was parried by Sawyer but his header flashed past the post.
Dillon was kept quiet for much of the game thanks to the close attentions of Rene Regis, who stuck with the Hitchin striker like glue.
Cirencester rarely troubled the Hitchin goalmouth, and it was from their only genuine chance that they scored in first-half added time, Lee Smith shooting home after Scott Griffin had cleverly shielded the ball from the Hitchin defence.
The second half saw Hitchin step up the pace, with French rounding one defender and seeing his shot deflected for a corner.
A long range effort by David Deeney was tipped round the post by Sawyer, and French volleyed over from just outside the penalty area. Dillon, on a rare escape from Regis, headed over from a Carl Williams cross.
Mark Bridge added some impetus to the Hitchin attack and he also tested Sawyer.
But it all looked to be lost as the Canaries pushed forward in the dying seconds.
A cross from Deeney was met by Frater, his header being saved by Sawyer. The ball rebounded to Frater who swung his foot at it but his effort struck the angle of post and bar, falling just inside the post. The Cirencester goalkeeper and defence protested but the referee awarded a goal.
This may not have been a classic performance by Hitchin but Salton was pleased with the way his team battled and refused to give up. "We played some good football and on another day would have scored more," he said.
Canaries: Parkin, Pugh, Ducket, Hammonds, Folds, Deeney, Williams, Ross (Frater 88), Dillon, Jaggard (Bridge 68), French.