Burke proud of Hitchin despite FA Cup run coming to an end

Hitchin Town lost 2-1 to Maidstone United on Saturday. Picture: Peter Else

Hitchin Town lost 2-1 to Maidstone United on Saturday. Picture: Peter Else - Credit: Archant

Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke was bursting with pride despite his side exiting the FA Cup, as they pushed Maidstone United all the way in a 2-1 defeat in the third qualifying round at the Gallagher Stadium on Saturday.

The Canaries took a seventh-minute lead when James Verney's superb strike beat Jake Cole.

But, former Hitchin player Noah Chesmain equalised on 12 minutes with a powerful effort, before Ibby Akanbi got the winner just two minutes later.

The away side showed real spirit in the second-half though as they tried to fight back against their National League South opponents, hitting the post and having a Steve Cawley penalty saved on 79 minutes.

Despite being knocked out, Burke was quick to praise his side, telling CometSport: "I'm proud of the boys.

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"We've come here with a depleted team and really pushed a very good team to the limit.

"We deserved a draw, and they said themselves we didn't deserve that defeat.

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"Every man put their body on the line and we caused them problems.

"We had a great opportunity to get the equaliser. I don't know what I've done to deserve this, I think we've had seven penalties now and missed six of them.

"We came with a game plan of trying to frustrate them, and we didn't really plan to do much with the attacking side.

"To go 1-0 up lifted us, but Maidstone, National League South side, they were clinical.

"They had a five minute spell where they punished us, but credit to our players they dug in and showed a lot of resilience.

"At 2-1 we were still in the game and we knew we'd get a chance, we had more than one, but unfortunately we didn't take it."

Hitchin are back in league action this weekend when they welcome Bromsgrove Sporting to Top Field.

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