Gloom grows at Top Field

Hitchin Town round-up by NEIL JENSEN On paper, Tuesday night s game at home to Rugby Town looked like one of Hitchin s easier fixtures in the final month of the season. But once more, the Canaries crashed to defeat, this time by 2-1, as anxiety grows at T

Hitchin Town round-up by NEIL JENSEN

On paper, Tuesday night's game at home to Rugby Town looked like one of Hitchin's easier fixtures in the final month of the season.

But once more, the Canaries crashed to defeat, this time by 2-1, as anxiety grows at Top Field.

Hitchin's first goal from open play since February 17 came too late to affect the outcome of this game - a pity since Ryan Charles' 25-yard strike was one of the goals of the season. Hitchin have now scored just eight goals in 18 games, a stark contrast to the first half of the season.

They were two goals down when Charles scored and had scarcely threatened the Rugby goal.

Although there were better performances from Martin Standen, Charles and one or two others, the Canaries looked low on confidence and devoid of creativity.

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These are bad times at Hitchin and it was not long before Rugby opened the scoring.

In the 14th minute, a corner was nodded on by Jason Taylor and David Stone shot home at the far post.

Hitchin's only attempt of note in the first half was a long range effort from Jon Stevenson that was way too high.

Two minutes into the second half, Rugby increased their lead when Taylor was allowed too much time and space to send a tame shot past Rob Beckwith.

David Deeney saw a long range shot go wide and Stone almost added a second when his shot on the turn was pushed for a corner by Beckwith.

The game was already in added time when Charles scored and for a brief moment there was hope that a dramatic comeback could be staged.

Hitchin: Beckwith, Childs, A Scanlon (Cunnington 77m), Cretton (Gentle-King 75m), Frater, Stevenson, Orphanou, Deeney, Standen, Charles, G Lamacraft (A Lamacraft 65m).

P Hitchin fans were anxiously looking at the tail end of the BGB Premier Division after Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Maidenhead United.

The home side will not have many games as easy as this as they bid for a play-off place - the very target Hitchin had set themselves at the start of the season.

There was little to cheer the North Herts contingent at York Road and not for the first time in recent weeks, the Canaries were shot-shy in front of goal. In fact, Hitchin's best chance fell to goalkeeper Beckwith whose wind-assisted goal kick almost sailed into the net at the other end.

Maidenhead went ahead after 12 minutes when Mark Nisbet swept the ball home following a free-kick by Errol Telemaque.

In the 28th minute, the home side doubled their lead, Grant Cooper netting with a free-kick that found a gaping hole in an ill-prepared defensive wall.

A free-kick that was dropped by Maidenhead goalkeeper Chico Ramos presented Ryan Frater with a chance in front of goal but his effort went over the bar.

Maidenhead started to dominate again after the break and Beckwith pulled off a good save from Neville Roach who was a thorn in Hitchin's side all afternoon.

Roach also went close with a shot across the face of goal.

Maidenhead's third goal in the 66th minute was shrouded in mystery as the referee awarded a penalty following an attack that had come to nothing. It was later revealed that Scott Cretton had pulled back Lee Newman. Bobby Behzadi scored from the penalty spot.

Canaries: Beckwith, Childs (P Scanlon 46m), Gentle-King (Folds 78m), Cretton, Frater, Standen, Deeney, Stevenson, Cunnington (Charles 62m), Orphanou, Lamacraft.

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