Biggleswade Town 1-1 Hitchin Town: Honours even in hard-fought derby draw at Langford Road
PUBLISHED: 22:10 27 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 28 August 2018
A first half goal from Josh Bickerstaff on 32 minutes put Mark Burke's side 1-0 ahead to the delight of their long-suffering travelling fans, who made their way up the A1 in their numbers to cheer on the Canaries.
In a match high on endeavour and battling qualities from both sides, Josh Urquhart levelled with ten minutes remaining to grab a point for Lee Allinson’s high-flying Waders, who started the match in second place in the Evo-Stik League South, Premier Division.
The match was a reunion, with three former Hitchin Town appearing at the Carlsberg Stadium for Town.
Allinson’s No2, Brett Donnelly featured as striker, the ever-combative Jonny McNamara showed his battling abilities in the heart of midfield, while the powerful Connor Vincent coming on as substitute.
Despite the familiarity, the match was fierce and aggressive but without being antagonistic.
Burke’s visitors could even have snatched all three points in the final moments after the Canaries captain reliable Dan Webb breached the offside trap.
Webb, Hitchin’s matchwinner in Saturday’s much-needed 1-0 victory over Redditch at Top Field, looked to push the ball round the onrushing Sam Donkin, but the former Stamford, Corby and Whitehawk keeper showed superb footwork and anticipation to block.
As referee Tom Danahar blew for full time, both sets of fans applauded their men in acknowledgement of a hard-fought match – one which was tough but fair, and played in a good spirit.
Speaking to CometSport afterwards Lee Allinson analysed the Waders performance, saying: “It was a fight. There wasn’t much football played which was what I expected.
“Credit to Burkey’s sides. I’ve always respected him and his teams.”
With Allinson’s Waders earning a point at Halesowen Town through a Peter Clark strike on Saturday the boss agreed they looked slightly tired, as they claimed their second point in two days to end the holiday weekend in a highly-creditable fourth place.
He added: “I felt we didn’t really get going. We looked a bit leggy. Two games in 48 hours has been hard.
“I’m pleased with my lads, I can’t knock them for coming back and showing fight, but I would have liked use to play more football.”
The past few weeks have been challenging for Hitchin boss Burke after his side’s shock 8-1 rout at Needham Market.
However, his charges have showed character since, narrowly losing 3-2 at Lowestoft before their victory over Redditch before their draw against Town.
The well-respected Burke immediately apologised after the Needham aberration, with the club offering refunds to all travelling fans.
They certainly did not have to worry about doing that again at Langford Road, with their battling performance to make it four points out of six in their last two matches.
An honest Burke said: “I’m pleased with the point. It was important that we came here and built on our win on Saturday.
“Before the game I would have been happy with a point, but as the game wore on I thought we could perhaps have taken all three but we didn’t hold on.
“It was a typical derby. There wasn’t much football played.
“There was a lot of endeavour. It was a feisty affair and not a lot of quality but with the position we have been in it’s all about points.
“To pick up a point to the team sitting second in the table prior to kick-off is a good result for us.”
As the fans filed away, content with witnessing a full-blooded battle between neighbours at the compact, tree-lined ground yards from the Great North Road, all eyes moved to the FA Cup draw on Tuesday, with Monday’s match filed under ‘typical derby affairs’.
Follow sports journalist, author and braodcaster Layth on Twitter @laythy29