Chesham United 3-1 Hitchin Town: Generals claim Canaries as Trophy victim
PUBLISHED: 13:43 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:46 13 November 2017
Hitchin Town went down 3-1 to Chesham United in the FA Trophy second qualifying round on Saturday.
The Canaries and the Generals both entered the in good form with Mark Burke’s men unbeaten in six while the hosts were unbeaten in nine.
However the match did not hit the heights as the visitors had their interest in the competition ended early.
Skipper Dan Webb joined Trey Charles on the injury list, meaning Josh Bickerstaff wore the captain’s armband, lining up with Lewis Rolfe in the centre of defence.
Michael Johnson, Jay Dowie, Jack Green, Elliot Bailey and Brett Donnelly returned to the starting eleven after their 4-2 win against Kings Langley in the BigFreeBetCom Cup.
The teams tested each other out with former Canary Lewis Toomey being crowded out before he could fire in an early shot while Donnelly and Bickerstaff tried to link up to probe the home defence.
The best early chance fell to Northampton Town loanee Joe Iaciofano who looked for space across the face of the penalty area before firing just wide.
For 25 minutes neither goalkeeper was seriously tested until Johnson was tested by Adam Watkins and then Toomey did connect only to find the side netting. The rather melodramatic referee did not help the game – and certainly not the Canaries by resorting to dishing out cards to Donnelly for reacting to a foul by Locke and to Bickerstaff.
Iaciofano again probed the Hitchin defence before Jonny McNamara forced a regulation save with a header from a Kavan Cotter cross. Shortly before the break, Chesham took the lead after some untidy defending as Hitchin failed to clear a free kick and Toomey was first to react with a low drive from an angle as the Generals went in 1-0 up at the interval.
After the break Chesham maintained the momentum as Johnson had to be alert to save after Toomey and fellow former Canary Jhai Dhillon sliced through Hitchin’s defence and then in gathering a headed effort from a freekick.
Bickerstaff was also outpaced by Iaciofano but did well to get back for a vital recovering challenge.
The Canaries defensive efforts were rewarded as they got back into the game after 53 minutes when Bailey turned to fire home in the penalty area to restore parity.
However any momentum disappeared two minutes later as Hitchin lost possession in midfield. Iaciofano set up Oran Swales whose shot was palmed away by Johnson. The influential midfielder was quickest to react and followed up to claim his fourth goal in successive games.
Hitchin toiled to recover the game with shots from Charlie Smith, Dowie, Donnelly and McNamara but none seriously tested Al-Droubi, as they struggled for fluency in their approach play.
In fact Chesham had the best chances to kill off the game. A Dhillon corner found the net after Johnson could not hold on to the delivery but Toomey was penalised for a foul challenge on the keeper which caused the spill.
Rolfe then prevented a certain goal as sub Jon-Jo Bates linked with Iaciofano whose dinked effort was goalbound until the defender hooked the ball off the goal line.
Hitchin made a last desperate effort to recover the game at the start of stoppage time with Johnson joining everyone else in the Chesham box for a free-kick. However the ploy backfired as the Generals broke quickly. Ben Walster managed to hold up the break with one challenge but the ball fell to Ben Crilley who chipped home to continue his scoring run and end Hitchin’s chances.
Hitchin now have a week until their next game – a first ever league meeting against Hereford FC at Edgar Street.
They will be hoping for a result as good as their FA Cup encounter with Hereford United back in November 1994 when they drew 2-2 with the then Third Division outfit before claiming an historic replay win at Top Field.
Chesham United: Al-Droubi, Crilley, Dhillon, Bevans, Murphy, Locke, Hutton, Watkins, Toomey, Iaciofano, Swales; subs - McGleish, Bush (Swales), Bates (Hutton), Reynolds (Iaciofano), Pepara
Hitchin Town: Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Green, Smith, B Donnelly, Bailey, McNamara; subs - Vincent (B Donnelly) , C Donnelly (Green), Kirkpatrick (Dowie), Da Silva
Chesham United – Toomey (42), (55), Crilley (90)
Hitchin Town – Bailey (53)
Chesham United – Locke
Hitchin Town – B Donnelly, Bickerstaff, Dowie, Rolfe
Attendance - 297
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