Hitchin Town 2-0 Hastings United: Mark Burke’s batling braves earn place in fourth FA Cup qualifying round while landing £15,000 bonus
PUBLISHED: 17:32 06 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 06 October 2018
Hitchin Town defeated Hastings United 2-0 as Mark Burke’s side progressed into the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup after a strong display in front of 425 spectators at Top Fields on Saturday.
The hosts scored either side of half-time through Lewis Ferrell and a Josh Bickerstaff penalty to ensure the Canaries name made it in the hat for the next round of the draw which will see them only one match away from the first round proper.
It was six years to the day that the two sides faced in the same stage of the FA Cup with a 2-2 draw down on the south coast before the Archers came away with a 2-1 win at Top Field in the replay and the Canaries came back for revenge.
Burke made five changes to the team that defeated Royston Town in the Southern League Challenge Cup in midweek with Michael Johnson, Matt Spring, Dan Webb, Scott Belgrove and Josh Bickerstaff all coming back into the side with Josh Mollison and Tremayne Charles dropped to the bench.
Hastings made just two changes from the side that beat Waltham Abbey 3-1 last week with Jamie Fielding and Tom Vickers featuring in place of Kevin Ogboe and Antonio Walker-Barth.
Hitchin were looking to capitalise on their heroic penalty shootout win over Didcot Town in the last round but the visitors had been on a fine run of form of late and started the much better side.
Hassan Ibrahim saw an effort drift just wide from 18 yards before Dayshonne Gelding did well cross in towards the far-post but for Tom Vickers to miss the target. From the resulting goal-kick, Gelding found himself through on goal down the right but his slotted effort saw the ball roll inches past the post.
The home side found themselves under a lot of pressure early on but looked a threat on the counter as Ezra Forde dispossessed Tom Climpson in defence. He managed to work some space on the edge of the penalty area but found his shot blocked.
As the home side tried to get more into the game, Hastings had another chance to score as good link-up play between Daniel Ajakiaye and Gelding saw the latter show composure to look up and spot Tom Vickers on the left. He laid the ball off for the number two but his first-time shot fell just wide again.
Hastings’ rued chances saw an end to a dominant opening spell for them as Hitchin managed to gain more control of the game after a clever free-kick routine saw Isaac Galliford tee-up Matt Spring who fired a strike just over the bar from 25 yards.
Unable to break the deadlock himself, Spring was able to assist the opening goal just five minutes later as his free-kick from the right was met by Lewis Ferrell who nodded into the net after rising above former Canaries goalkeeper Charlie Horlock to notch his first goal for the club and the 600th goal for a Hitchin side in the FA Cup.
The goal appeared to help settle the hosts who began to dominate the game with further chances falling to Bickerstaff and Ferrell who were unfortunate not to double the advantage before the break.
Hitchin went in at half-time with a 1-0 advantage but the tie was still anyone’s game. That was until Canaries captain Dan Webb found himself with space down the right and his first time cross got in-behind the Hastings defence. In a desperate attempt for the ball, Fielding brought down Forde inside the box leaving referee Gilroy with no option but to award the spot-kick. Bickerstaff stepped up and sent Horlock the wrong way to ease the pressure on the home side with a two-goal cushion five minutes into the half.
With nothing to lose, the Archers tried to find a route back into the game with efforts from Jack Dixon and Gelding but were unable to trouble Johnson in the Canaries goal and despite a late flurry of Hastings pressure.
The Hitchin number one was not to be beaten confirming the Canaries place in the fourth qualifying round and a healthy £15,000 prize for a well-earned victory.
The Canaries will find out who they’ll face in the next round on Monday.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Comet. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.