Gallery: Hats are off to Hay's Hitchin

Hitchin Town kicked off their pre-season programme in style, deservedly beating a dazed and confused Luton Town side uncertain of its very future. This was a highly encouraging performance by Hitchin, who looked fitter, faster and more determined than the

Hitchin Town kicked off their pre-season programme in style, deservedly beating a dazed and confused Luton Town side uncertain of its very future.

This was a highly encouraging performance by Hitchin, who looked fitter, faster and more determined than their League Two opponents on Monday night.

Manager Darran Hay has had his charges in training for weeks, refusing to relax during the close season.

Luton, a disorganised mixture of triallists, youth teamers and experienced squad players, looked jaded and dispirited. But for Hay, this was exactly the sort of response he was looking for.

He unveiled some new faces; man mountain central defender Marcus Gross, left-sided player Lee Wilson, former Bedford man Jon Woolf, full-back Michael Cox and best of all, Derwayne Stupple.

Hitchin took the lead after just 11 minutes when Paul Barnes, who looked sharp all evening, headed home from a corner. Seven minutes later, Luton levelled when Asa Hall dived to head past Martin Bennett from close range.

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But Hitchin regained the lead after 28 minutes, Barnes scoring again with a crisp finish from a Stupple through ball.

Luton scarcely troubled the Hitchin defence and late in the game the Canaries added two more goals. In the 82nd minute, gangly striker Russell Ball, stepping up from junior football, sent a low shot past Luton keeper Dean Brill and five minutes later, Scott Orphanou ran on to a long ball, outpaced a defender and finished with confidence.

Hay said: "I could not have asked for more. The lads looked fit, they were confident and they can't wait to get started on August 16."

Canaries: Bennett, Cox, Pepper, Williams (McArdle), Gross (Smith), Gilbert, Woolf (Barr), Stupple, P Barnes (Ball), M Barnes, Wilson (Orphanou).

Att: 876.

The game was preceded by a veterans match between Hitchin Town 1992-95 and a team of Luton old boys.

Hitchin's side included FA Cup heroes Mark Burke, Steve Miller, Shaun Marshall, Jon Bone, Lee Burns, Richard Wilmot, Darren Thompson and David Cooper as well as the popular Adam Parker.

The Hatters included Rob Johnson and Ian Scott, both former Hitchin favourites, as well as ex-assistant manager Ken Gillard, along with the likes of David Oldfield, Marvin Johnson, Wayne Turner and Alan Judge.

The game was won by the Hitchin team, Cooper scoring a spectacular goal.

* Hitchin Town are recruiting players to play in the Eastern Junior Alliance League at age groups under-15 and 16.

A recruitment day has been arranged at The Arena in Norton Road, Baldock, this Saturday.

For the under-16s, it is 10am to midday - call Kevin on 07887 514086. And for the under-15s from 12.30-2.30pm - Ryan on 07973 548642.

* Summer holiday football courses, run by Hitchin Town, are also being held at The Arena.

They are aimed at boys and girls in age groups five to seven and eight to 12.

For details on dates and cost, call Allison on 07745 569184 or Mark on 01462 720088 or email info@htcfc.co.uk or alternatively visit www.northhertsarena.co.uk

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