Canaries in a hard test

Hitchin Town begin their Herts Charity Cup campaign with a tough game against Ryman League Ware at Top Field on Saturday. Manager Darren Salton is keen to start the Canaries competitive programme at home with a win, especially after losing at Salisbury C

Hitchin Town begin their Herts Charity Cup campaign with a tough game against Ryman League Ware at Top Field on Saturday.

Manager Darren Salton is keen to start the Canaries' competitive programme at home with a win, especially after losing at Salisbury City on Saturday (see below).

"This is a game I want to win and a competition that I am going all out to win this season.

"Winning is a habit and I want my players to get that habit, no matter what competition we are playing in."

Salton will be fielding Hitchin's strongest possible team ahead of the first league game of the season at Tiverton.

"We will treat this game as a warm up for the league season, so I will want my best available line-up," he added.

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Ware won the Ryman League Division Two last season and will play in Division One in 2006-7.

"They are obviously on a high after last year, so they will be keen to carry on from where they left off - we will need to be at our best," warned Salton.

Ware have not visited Hitchin since 1994-5 when they were beaten in the Herts Senior Cup. The Canaries' meetings with the East Herts side go back to 1928-9.

P The Canaries lost 3-2 at Salisbury City in the Southern League Challenge Cup.

Chris Dillon passed a fitness test and was declared fit, along with Gavin Jaggard and Neil Pugh, both of whom had been doubtful for the game.

The home team took an early lead after eight minutes.

Salisbury quickly countered following an Hitchin attack with an excellent passing movement. Paul Sales cut into the penalty area from the left, got to the bye line, cut back round Liam Folds and fired into the far corner.

Hitchin's reply was swift and just two minutes later, Carl Williams hit a cross-shot which caught goalkeeper Ryan Clarke off his line and dropped into the far corner.

The 2005-6 Southern League champions regained their lead on 25 minutes. Some good work on the right by Scott Bartlett resulted in a pinpoint cross for Matthew Tubbs to head past Paul Taylor from six yards.

Hitchin though were in resilient mood and again their reply was swift. A flowing passing move saw the in-form David Deeney round Jon Beswetherick and slot the ball under Clarke for the second equaliser.

On 38 minutes, Salton's men found themselves behind for the third time when the dangerous Tubbs cut in from the left again and fired a rocket into the far corner of Taylor's goal.

Tommy Hayes replaced Jaggard at the break and the second 45 minutes was nowhere near as exciting.

The Hitchin defence was put under a considerable amount of pressure with Taylor the busier of the two keepers.

Hitchin appeared to score a fortuitous equaliser as an under pressure Salisbury defender tried to head the ball back to Clarke, only to find the keeper off his line.

Clarke managed to grab the ball diving full length but his momentum took him and the ball over the line.

But the assistant referee adjudged Mark Bridge offside and the 'goal' was disallowed.

The Conference South new boys held on for the last period of the game as Hitchin fought hard to find a third equaliser.

Canaries: Taylor, Pugh, Duckett, Hammonds, Folds, Deeney, Williams (Cretton 60), Ross, Dillon (Bridge 63), Jaggard (Hayes 45), French.

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