Canaries put up a fight against the leaders

Hitchin Town round-up by NEIL JENSEN Is there a light, albeit a dimly flickering one, shining at the end of Hitchin s tunnel? That was the question being asked by the handful of Canaries fans that witnessed their cruel 2-1 defeat at Halesowen Town on?Satu

Hitchin Town round-up by NEIL JENSEN

Is there a light, albeit a dimly flickering one, shining at the end of Hitchin's tunnel?

That was the question being asked by the handful of Canaries fans that witnessed their cruel 2-1 defeat at Halesowen Town on?Saturday.

In what was arguably Hitchin's best performance under Darran Hay, Halesowen consigned them to their sixth defeat in seven league games.

A late goal, after Hitchin had fought back from a half-time deficit, was hardly what Halesowen deserved but at least Hay could draw some encouragement from his team's overall display.

Hitchin fielded another new signing, Darell Ellams, a left-back from Wycombe Wanderers. The youngster looked a good acquisition on this showing.

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What was doubly cruel for Hitchin was that one of their former players, Zema Abbey, put Halesowen ahead after 33 minutes. Abbey did not have to work too hard for his goal, casually nodding home from a corner.

Earlier, Hitchin had some half chances, notably from Paul Armstrong and Ricky Miller.

In recent weeks, a goal from the opposition has resulted in capitulation, but Hitchin came back well and in the 54th minute, they silenced the home crowd with an equaliser.

Wayne Mills shrugged aside a challenge from two players to get a shot in, and the ball bounced off the post to Richard Pringle who shot into the net.

It could have been better for Hitchin, but James Nash shot over the bar after the ball rolled to him on the far post. At the other end, an overhead kick by Ikechi Anya was only a fraction too high.

Three minutes from time, Halesowen grabbed the winning goal, Shane Paul drilling into the net after the Hitchin defence failed to clear a corner.

It was enough to extinguish Hitchin's hopes, but given the disparity in resources between the two clubs, the Canaries ran a side with title aspirations very close.

Canaries: Perks, Deeney, Ellams, Williams, Gilbert, Pepper, Mills, Beale, Pringle, Armstrong, Miller (Nash 50m).

n Tuesday night's home match against leaders King's Lynn was postponed due to Top Field being waterlogged.

n Without a game this Saturday, the Canaries make the long trip to Merthyr Tydfil on Tuesday night.

n Hitchin have signed midfielder Jon Stevenson from St Albans just a few months after the former Enfield player left Top Field.

Stevenson, who was playing out of position when he departed Hitchin, was a popular figure at the club in his first spell after signing towards the end of last season.

Manager Hay is pleased to welcome Stevenson back to the club and said: "Stevo is a strong player and will give us that bite we need in midfield.

"We have a battle ahead of us and everyone at the club knows we have to really dig in to get the points we need to get out of trouble. He is just the player we need."

Hay has also signed another youngster from Wycombe, 19-year-old central defender Stuart Cattell, and Mark Bridge, who has returned after a lay-off due to injury.

Hay also expects to announce the signing of an experienced forward who has been training with the Canaries for the past month.

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