All smiles as Town go into third
Hitchin Town 3 Stamford 1 MARCUS CRAWLEY reports THERE were plenty of reasons for Hitchin fans to be cheerful after Tuesday night s victory. The three points rocketed the Canaries up to third in the British Gas Business Premier table. And their striking o
Hitchin Town 3 Stamford 1
MARCUS CRAWLEY reports
THERE were plenty of reasons for Hitchin fans to be cheerful after Tuesday night's victory.
The three points rocketed the Canaries up to third in the British Gas Business Premier table.
And their striking options look formidable as Grant Carney - out since joining in the summer due to injury - made his debut for the club late on.
With Chris Dillon back from injury this month along with Tuesday night's pairing of Gavin Jaggard and Josh Sozzo, goals should not be in short supply.
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The goalkeeping situation also looks to be resolved with former Luton keeper Rob Beckwith impressing against Stamford.
It had been a long wait for the Top Field faithful to see their team in league action.
In fact, since the last home game on September 9, Hitchin had played just three league games on their travels due to the FA Cup and FA Trophy commitments of themselves and other teams.
Hitchin had the perfect start to this match with a goal on just 44 seconds.
Another new boy, Rob Miller, supplied the cross and Jaggard powered a header past Ian Pledger.
Stamford looked distinctly uncomfortable during the half and Ryan Frater could have put them two behind when he headed over after a Miller corner was not cleared properly.
Carl Williams then dragged a shot across goal after Daniel French's scintillating individual run had laid the opportunity on a plate for him.
The second Hitchin goal arrived five minutes before the break and it was a real gift. A Stamford defender trod on the ball in the penalty area and Sozzo gratefully accepted the invitation to fire past Pledger.
Beckwith had twice ventured outside his area during the half and the second sojourn was less successful. The keeper must have been relieved to see Jason Turner volley wide from his poor kick.
The Hitchin stopper was also busy on the restart as he got down well to save from Kevin Childs and smothered Turner's powerful header.
It was an open half in fact as David Deeney's long range effort skidded past the post for Hitchin, while Beckwith was beaten by Gareth Pritchard's curling shot but Stamford were denied by the bar.
Hitchin wasted a chance for a third just after the hour mark when Martin Matthews was adjudged to have handled a French cross. Deeney hammered his spot-kick against the bar and the reverberations could be felt all around Top Field.
The same player made amends just seven minutes later with an equally powerful drive which this time found the net after good work by French.
Beckwith performed more heroics to keep out Scott Taylor's powerful strike but was beaten with a quarter of an hour to go by sub Luke Kennedy's drive.
This set up a tense period for the Canaries as Kennedy volleyed wide from a corner and keeper Beckwith saved well from Martin Wormall.
Carney, on for the final 11 minutes, could make little impression but there is sure to be more to come from the former Dunstable hitman as he recovers his match fitness.
Canaries: Beckwith, Pugh, Pendleton, Frater, Folds, Deeney (Lamacraft 79m), Williams, Miller, Jaggard (Carney 79m), Sozzo (Bridge 88m), French.