Canaries squeeze through in cup tie
Stanway Rovers 0 Hitchin Town 2 Mark Barnes was the hero for Hitchin in a testing FA Cup second qualifying round replay at Stanway on Tuesday night – a game which tested the Canaries patience and composure. For the second time in four days, Stanway tried
Stanway Rovers 0 Hitchin Town 2
Mark Barnes was the hero for Hitchin in a testing FA Cup second qualifying round replay at Stanway on Tuesday night - a game which tested the Canaries' patience and composure.
For the second time in four days, Stanway tried their hardest to upset the formbook. For much of this 90 minutes, they refused to let Hitchin settle and but for better finishing the outcome would have been different.
Right from the start, Hitchin seemed to have cup-tie nerves. Early on their defence was a little generous to Stanway and the pace of the home side's frontmen caused problems.
Jermaine Harewood took advantage of a bad pass across field and ran on, looking set to score, but his shot was blocked by Martin Bennett.
Likewise, Michael Burch missed a glorious chance which he put wide after the Hitchin defence had left him unmarked.
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Sam Newson and Luke Callander also caused some anxiety when the former backheeled and the latter followed up but saw his effort deflected from danger.
Hitchin also had their chances in the first period. Tyron Sealey, preferred to Luke Gregson in the starting line-up, saw his shot deflected for a corner, and Jon Woolf and Carl Williams also went close. But it was not until first-half added time that they scored, arguably against the run of play.
Sealey threaded the ball through to Paul Barnes and his shot was parried by goalkeeper Michael Church, only for Mark Barnes to follow up and score.
Hitchin started more confidently in the second period with the Barnes brothers linking up for Paul to shoot wide of the target. Then Paul Barnes saw a header sail just over the bar. Woolf also had a chance when he volleyed wide from a Paul Barnes cross.
But at the other end, Stanway still threatened to make a game of it. Bennett pulled off a number of good saves, notably from Callander after a goalmouth scramble.
Rob Thorne struck the top of the crossbar and amid some intense pressure, the Hitchin goal led a charmed life.
As the game wore on, however, Hitchin's fitness level told and with the introduction of Gregson, they gained a new dimension. He crossed for Paul Barnes to volley wide and the same player saw another close-range effort cleared off the line by Lee Norfolk.
Seven minutes from time, Hitchin secured victory when a Lee Wilson cross to the near post was neatly volleyed into the net by Mark Barnes. From thereon, the game became open with Hitchin threatening to score again with Ian Draycott striking the crossbar after Gregson had headed across goal.
Stanway were applauded off by the 50 or so Hitchin fans who made the trip to Essex. Darran Hay's side knew they had been in a cup tie! They will now play host to Hinckley United on Saturday, October 11.
Canaries: Bennett, Pepper, Wilson, Williams, Gilbert, Cox, Woolf (Barr 75m), Stupple, P Barnes (Draycott 84m), M Barnes, Sealey (Gregson 75m).