Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke left unhappy after starting 2019 with two defeats

PUBLISHED: 14:07 08 January 2019

Hitchin Town FC manager Mark Burke. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin Town FC manager Mark Burke. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke has been left unhappy after starting 2019 with two defeats.

Adi Yussuf of Solihull Moors during the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTHAdi Yussuf of Solihull Moors during the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH

The Canaries lost a dramatic match 4-3 at home to AFC Rushden and Diamonds on Saturday following a 1-0 loss to near neighbours Royston Town at Garden Walk on New Year’s Day.

Spyros Mentis scored an 87th minute header to ensure the Crows began the new year with a bang. After soaking pressure throughout the second-half, Mentis was able to latch onto a Josh Castiglione free-kick to head home against the run of play and provide the Crows a perfect start to the new year.

Speaking after the match a frustrated Burke said: “I was not happy with our start to the New Years Day game at Royston.

“We did not get going in the first 20 minutes but we grew in to the game and started to take control. The second half performance was very good and I felt we deserved to get something from the game.

Hitchin Town fans prior to the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTHHitchin Town fans prior to the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH

“To win games you need to score goals and we did not capitalise on our good play and we then got punished for a defensive lapse.”

The home side had won the previous two meetings between the two sides but Hitchin looked to put that run to bed early on as Isaac Galliford fired just over inside the opening minutes.

Royston grew into the game with Vance Bola and Tom Newman seeing their attempts saved by Michael Johnson in the Hitchin goal. The hosts continued to pile on the pressure but could not find the break-through before Canaries winger, Alfie Cue dragged an effort wide to see the teams go in at half-time goalless.

With fewer than five minutes remaining, Royston were awarded a free-kick down the left. Castiglione played the ball in and Mentis, unmarked, headed past Johnson to return Steve Castle’s side back to winning ways.

A general view of Hitchin Town's Top Field ground prior to the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTHA general view of Hitchin Town's Top Field ground prior to the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH

Hitchin were on a run of four successive wins not too long ago but now found themselves looking at a possible four consecutive defeats as they looked to push for an equaliser in the closing stages. Dan Webb played the ball agonisingly across goal but no Canaries player could get a touch and the hosts were able to hold out for a 1-0 victory.

Despite a brace from Galliford and one from Matt Nolan the Canaries followed up the Crows defeat by falling to Rushden in a dramatic seven-goal thriller. Strikes from former Biggleswade Town attacker Jack Bowen as well as captain Tom Lorraine. Matt Berry-Hargreaves and Ben Diamond sealed the win.

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