Canaries within sight of safety

Hitchin Town 2 Bashley 0 Darran Hay sat exhausted and relieved after this game knowing that his side are within a whisker of securing their BGB Premier Division place for next season. I asked for four points from our last three games and the lads have al

Hitchin Town 2 Bashley 0

Darran Hay sat exhausted and relieved after this game knowing that his side are within a whisker of securing their BGB Premier Division place for next season.

"I asked for four points from our last three games and the lads have almost done it," said the Hitchin boss.

"I believe we are not far from achieving our aim now."

Hay deserves credit for getting Hitchin so close now to staying up.

Two months ago, few would have believed it possible, but a combination of a strong team spirit and some key players have transformed the team and the very mood of the club.

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Almost 400 people turned up to watch this latest Hitchin success, against a team that is hoping to secure a play-off place by the end of the season.

As one Bashley official said: "You deserved it and you have absolutely no worries about relegation."

Before Hay and his team can relax, they may need another point, but there is every chance that they won't be facing a dreaded final day showdown at Corby.

Once more it was the Barnes brothers who did the trick for Hitchin.

The last time the name Barnes was mentioned with a secret weapon, it was the chap who invented the bouncing bomb in World War II, but Hay certainly found something special when he brought the gangly Mark to Top Field.

It took him just 57 seconds to break the dam that was the Bashley defence, shooting home from close range after Mark Ducket's cross had only been partially cleared.

He should have made it 2-0 soon after when he lobbed on to the roof of the Bashley net.

Bashley responded with a Danny Smith header that was cleared off the line by Dean Gilbert and Ryan Moss volleyed over from six yards from a Dave Town cross.

Gilbert almost added a second for Hitchin when his flying header was cleared off the line and before the break, two headers from Paul Barnes tested the Bashley defence.

Hitchin started the second half well and Jon Stevenson had no less than three chances to score in the first five minutes, two headers and a close-range shot that Bashley goalkeeper Dave Elm stopped.

Hitchin got the breathing space they needed however in the 62nd minute, Mark Barnes feeding his brother Paul and he evaded a tackle before shooting low past Elms from the edge of the area.

Mark could have added another but was denied by Elms a few minutes later before he made way for player-manager Hay.

It was not until late on that Bashley worried Hitchin again, sub Lee Burch's effort tipped over by Martin Bennett although a goal kick was awarded.

In added time, Jon Stevenson almost added another for the Canaries when his free-kick took a wicked deflection before sailing past the post.

Hay and his team were applauded off the field by the Top Field faithful - they know that the local lad is close to pulling off a miraculous escape.

Canaries: Bennett, Deeney, Pepper, Williams, Gilbert, Smith, Lewis, Stevenson, P Barnes (Fehmi 68m), M Barnes (Hay 78m), Ducket.

Ref: G Law.

Att: 383.

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