Hitchin Town 2-2 Harrow Borough (4-2 on penalties): Canaries show character to win through after hard-fought draw after 90 minutes
PUBLISHED: 22:01 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 22:01 05 September 2018
Hitchin Town hosted Harrow Borough in the Evo-Stik League South Challenge Cup preliminary round. Read on for Layth Yousif's report from evocative Top Field.
Hitchin Town beat Harrow Borough 4-2 on penalties after a hard-fought 2-2 draw after 90 minutes.
The winning penalties were slotted home by Noah Cheeseman, Danny Talbot, Trey Charles, and Charlie Thake with the unfortunate Ant O’Connor having his penalty saved by Josh Mollison.
Isaac Galliford had put the Canaries ahead before the match exploded into life with three goals in four minutes.
O’Connor levelled on 41 minutes, before two penalties, one for either side, were converted by Hitchin’s Danny Talbot three minutes later.
Sixty seconds later Frank Keita slotted home a second spot-kick to make the 2-2 moments before the break as everyone at Fishponds Road drew breath at the interval.
The second half was a full-blooded affair but not further goals were scored meaning penalties.
It has been a difficult start to the league season for Mark Burke’s Canaries which continued with a 1-0 reverse at Fishponds Road on Saturday against Redditch.
Perhaps two cup games in four days could lift some of the gloom over wonderful Top Field.
Harrow, led by boss Steve Baker who carved out a well-regarded career with Hayes among other sides had snatched a point from their home match with Salisbury on Saturday through a 91st minute leveller from left-back Ryan Haugh after good work from the lively O’Connor.
With the sides eyeing the first preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday it was clear both managers would be delving into their first team squads for Evo-Stik League South Challenge Cup preliminary round.
Boro are due to make the trip to east London to face Bostik Premier Hornchurch while Hitchin host Godmanchester in North Herts.
The home side made a bright start, and went ahead on 13 minutes through Galliford with a fine effort to put the Canaries 1-0 up.
Burke’s side showed defensive solidity as the visitors had a succession of corners which the backline, well marshalled by redoubtable captain Dan Webb, successfully repelled.
Both sides continued to show endeavour and commitment without troubling the score until a flurry of goals four minutes before the break, as Harrow drew level through O’Connor after breaking through.
As reserve keeper Mollison came rushing out to close the angle the ball ricocheted off the shins of the 25-year-old former North Greenford striker before falling nicely for him to slot home to equalise and make the score 1-1.
A minute before interval Talbot put the Canaries 2-1 ahead with a firmly-taken spot-kick, driving the ball low past Boro keeper Kaval Patel left hand.
However 60 seconds later Harrow broke and were awarded a penalty by referee Burridge after a foul in the box was spotted by the officials.
Keita calmly sent Mollison the wrong way as he placed the ball low to his left to make the score 2-2 on the stroke of half-time.
It was hard to tell whether the resounding applause from the hardy fans assembled at Top Field was for their efforts, or more in relief at the fact spectators could draw their breath after a hectic end to the opening 45 minutes.
The second half started with perspiration if not inspiration as goalscorer Keita was influential in the centre before Hitchin went close with a header from leader Webb.
Boro’s No11 George Fenton’s header narrowly went wide with 13 minutes remaining in a crowded box when well-placed.
Substitute Samuel Olanrewaju should have grabbed the winner with seconds remaining for Boro but blazed wide.
There was only time for Thake to head over the bar when too could have scored before the game went to penalties, which Burke’s boys triumphed in front of 119 fans to progress in the league cup at this level.
Now for the FA Cup.
Follow reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29