Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke hails his team and supporters after long hard season

PUBLISHED: 13:01 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:01 01 May 2018

Hitchin Town lost 3-0 at Top Field to champions Hereford FC. Credit: Peter Else

Hitchin Town lost 3-0 at Top Field to champions Hereford FC. Credit: Peter Else

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Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke has praised his players and thanked the club's loyal fans for their support after a long season.

The Canaries rounded off their home league season with a 3-0 home defeat by Hereford at Top Field last Wednesday.

The Evo-Stik Southern Premier League Champions went ahead in the 32nd minute after James Bowen crossed onto the head of Pablo Haysham who flicked the ball home.

Earlier, Josh Bikcerstaff smashed the ball against the bar and Brett Donnelly was denied when Bulls keeper Will Puddy narrowed the angle after the Canaries man beat the offside trap to find himself one-on-one with the keeper.

Peter Beadle’s visitors doubled their lead five minutes after the interval when Lance Smith slotted home in a crowded box before Jennsion Myrie-Williams sealed the victory in the 87th minute.

Boss Burke cut a dignified figure as always after the match. Speaking to CometSport after the match on a wet night he found time to praise his team, the opponents and the fans.

He said: “I was delighted by the performance by my boys. We had our work cut out playing the league champions here – the deserved league champions.

“Hereford have been by far the best team in the league. Every player bar none put in a shift for us against them.

“Players have been dropping like flies and we’ve had to change the personnel. We’ve had Brett [Donnelly] coming in at centre-half, Robbie Burns at right wing back and they’ve done a really good job.

“I was gutted we let the third goal in as 2-0 would have been a bit of a moral victory as we had such a patched up team.

“We had chances too. We hit the bar and a few other chances. I’m really proud of the boys as they’ve put a shift in against a really good team.”

The Canaries ended their season losing 3-0 at Weymouth on Saturday in front of 1,102 fans. The results see the Fishponds Road outfit finish in 11th place with 66 points from 46 games.

However, Burke’s boys did end the year with silverware after clinching the BigFreeBet.com Challenge Cup earlier in the month after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Didcot Town at Top Field.

Burke added: “It was nice to pick up silverware [in the BigFreeBet cup]. If you look at it it’s only us and Hereford who have actually picked up a trophy this season.

“You play all season and there are only a handful of trophies you can collect, so to win one of them is pleasing.

“It could have been quite easy to have downed tools after that. But we didn’t. All credit to the boys.

“They’ve beaten Bishops Stortford on the Saturday and drawn with Dorchester Town on the Monday, then had to play Hereford on Wednesday.

“I was really pleased with our performance. I’m disappointed we lost of course but pleased with the display – even with our full team out we would have had a battle.”

Burke also praised loyal Canaries fans adding the League Cup win was for them.

He added: “Our fan base is growing all the time. Our average gate is growing all the time. I’d like to thank them all for their support.

“The League Cup win was something for them to celebrate as it’s been a long hard season.

“Hopefully we can regroup in the summer and get in some fresh faces in as well.

“Mind you I’ve got fresh faces coming in for sure next season because half my team have been out injured this season so it’ll be like signing new players for a lot of them.

“We need a little break now to recharge our batteries and go again in July.”

The club hosts its end of season awards night on Friday.

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