Darren Hay’s Hitchin Town column

After two tough games with Stanway, who belied their Ridgeons Eastern Counties League status, it was a relief to get our FA Cup second qualifying round replay out of the way. We had to work hard for the win because Stanway refused to give in and for long

After two tough games with Stanway, who belied their Ridgeons Eastern Counties League status, it was a relief to get our FA Cup second qualifying round replay out of the way.

We had to work hard for the win because Stanway refused to give in and for long periods, we were living on our nerves. But I was delighted that we finally put paid to them because I didn't want to add to our list of FA Cup upsets!

I was also pleased for Mark Barnes, who netted both goals and showed again what potential he has. He is a handful for defenders and he links up so well with his brother Paul. They are starting to click now this season and they have scored six of our seven FA Cup goals this season.

Although it's a cliché, it is a team game, and we also had to thank our goalkeeper, Martin Bennett for another good night's work. Martin has been in terrific form recently and considering his relative inexperience, he is coming on leaps and bounds.


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We are still not clicking in all departments, but I am convinced we are not too far away from finding the right combination to get us moving up the table. I would have liked a few more points by now, but we will.

So the win at Stanway gives us an intriguing third qualifying round tie at home to Hinckley of the Blue Square North. Make no mistake, this is a hard one for us, but at least we came out of the hat first.

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What we will see is a tremendous FA Cup tie at Top Field and it would be nice if the turnstiles could click towards 500 people for this tie.

Some people may be disappointed that we have drawn Hinckley at this stage, but after two rounds of being the favourites against tricky underdog opposition, the players know that if you want a run in the FA Cup, you will come up against decent sides.

Hinckley have lost just once in the league this season, so they obviously have some quality in their team. We will watch them carefully and do our homework.

And our players will be up for this as much as Stanway were fired up in the two games we played in the past week. I am looking forward to it and I know as soon as the final whistle went against Stanway, thoughts were on Hinckley.

But before that, we have an important week of league games, at Clevedon this Saturday and on Tuesday night a big local derby against Bedford Town.

We will feel a lot happier once we have that first home win in the league - it would be good to get that against our neighbours!

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