Hitchin Town 3-1 Weymouth: Burke's Canaries triumph at Top Field
PUBLISHED: 10:47 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:47 07 November 2017
Two Elliot Bailey goals early in the second half saw Hitchin Town inflict a second successive league defeat on Weymouth.
Mark Burke opted to start with Trey Charles instead of Jonny McNamara and Hitchin’s early attacks were channelled down the right flank to him. The selection decision was vindicated after just six minutes. Charles’ cross from the right was met at the far post by Jack Green whose header was converted from close range by Brett Donnelly.
The Terras showed their credentials with Ben Thomson, Pat Saruci and Abdulai Baggie posing problems. Michael Johnson tipped a Thomson effort onto the crossbar before saving from the same player after Saruci had set up the chance.
Donnelly had another strike chalked off for offside as he turned home a long range shot by Josh Bickerstaff before turning provider with a neat pass to Elliot Bailey whose finish was just wide.
Although Johnson had to push away a shot from Charlie Davis, the Canaries were in the driving seat during the first half hour. Charles sent in another teasing cross which three men in front of goal were unable to connect with, Charlie Smith and Kavan Cotter were both off target and Jay Dowie’s shot was deflected into the arms of Mark Travers.
Weymouth grew into the game as the half concluded with Bickerstaff and Cotter both getting in important blocks while Johnson won a challenge under pressure from Josh Wakefield. Walster was carded for bringing down Baggie when the winger broke through, with Davis also cautioned for trying to take the law into his own hands.
In stoppage time, Weymouth broke back as a late corner was conceded. From that, Thomson headed the ball into the path of Davis whose shot from outside the box flew past Johnson to send the sides in level at the interval.
Half time - Hitchin Town 1 Weymouth 1
There was no surge from the Terras after the break as Hitchin took control. From an early Weymouth corner, Josh Carmichael fired over. In an instant, play swept to the other end and Bailey shot home to restore the Hitchin lead on 49 minutes.
Two minutes later a pass wide from Smith set Green free down the left flank. His cross was met by a firm header from Bailey who doubled his tally to extend the lead.
Smith himself then forced a save from Travers with a snapshot. However it was no surprise that Weymouth piled on pressure to get back into the game. Mark Cooper found space behind the left side of the Canaries’ defence and his cross was turned just wide by Wakefield. The same player also fired wide from a Weymouth corner while Johnson was again alert to thwart a Davis free kick.
The referee seemed determined to assist the visitors as he handed out a stream of yellow cards to the Canaries although the match did not warrant it. However Hitchin defended resolutely to keep Weymouth’s chances to a minimum, with Johnson pulling off another fine save to deny Carmichael from a free kick.
Hitchin opportunities were also rare - one looping header from substitute Connor Vincent and a Walster free kick that was off target were the closest. In stoppage time Weymouth substitute Harry Baker placed his header onto the roof of the net but that was the final threat as the Canaries dug in for three valuable points to close the gap on their opponents. This was an impressive team effort and although Weymouth might plead that they were missing one or two players, that should not take any shine off the result.
Full time - Hitchin Town 3 Weymouth 1
Hitchin Town - Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Green, Smith, B Donnelly, Bailey, Charles; subs - Vincent (B Donnelly), McNamara, C Donnelly (Green), Kirkpatrick (Bailey), Rolfe
Weymouth - Travers, Cooper, Buckley, Carmichael, Downs, Davis, Saruci, McCarthy, Thomson, Wakefield, Baggie; subs - Sa, Boore, Baler (Wakefield), Harvey, Molesley
Hitchin Town - B Donnelly (6), Bailey (49, 51)
Weymouth - Davis (45+2)
Hitchin Town - Walster, Bickerstaff, C Donnelly, Dowie
Weymouth - Davis
Sponsors MOTM - Brett Donnelly
Attendance - 453