Highs and lows for Hitchin fans

Hitchin Town round-up NEIL JENSEN reports Canaries manager Darran Hay sat in the clubhouse after Tuesday night s game and offered a humble and sincere apology for his side s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Brackley. After beating Mangotsfield on?Saturday (see

Hitchin Town round-up NEIL JENSEN reports

Canaries manager Darran Hay sat in the clubhouse after Tuesday night's game and offered a humble and sincere apology for his side's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Brackley.

After beating Mangotsfield on?Saturday (see report below), Hay may have felt a revival was on the cards, but Brackley reminded him there are no easy games in the BGB Premier Division.

Brackley performed a 'smash and grab' operation on Hitchin, and there was little they could do about it.


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As entertainment, this was definitely not a game to win five stars.

But in the first half, Hitchin more than matched Brackley and honours were even.

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The only highlights of the half were a free-kick by David Deeney that resembled a misshapen banana, and a Richard Pringle shot that was deflected on its way into goalkeeper Richard Knight's arms.

Anyone expecting a big improvement in the second period was disappointed.

Nine minutes into the restart, Brackley took the lead, Jerome Anderson racing clear of the Hitchin defence to meet a long ball and then shooting past Ricky Perks.

Hitchin worked tremendously hard, but they looked like a desperate team, scurrying around searching for an opening, but lacking the muscle and guile to achieve their aim.

Deeney had another free-kick that went wide but it was not until the 87th minute that the Brackley goal was seriously under threat.

A cross by Ricky Miller was touched on by Brett Donnelly and Jon Stevenson prodded it against the outside of the post.

In the dying seconds, Donnelly had a shot that cleared the target when perhaps he should have done better.

Canaries: Perks, Pepper, Ducket, Williams, Gilbert, Stevenson, Olaleye, Deeney, Pringle (Donnelly 54m), Armstrong, Miller (Mills 76m).

n It was not a classic, and few people will remember much about Saturday's 1-0 home win over Mangotsfield United, but it could be one of the most important Hitchin victories in years.

That is, if it triggers off the long-awaited revival that will steer Hitchin away from danger.

The reaction at the end of the game, however, from both manager Hay and his players, as well as the Canaries fans, said it all, really.

There was an air of relief and a feeling that this win just might kick-start Hitchin's recovery programme.

Hitchin have to win at least eight of their remaining games and if some of them are against teams as shot shy as Mangotsfield, then they have a genuine chance.

Hay had his players in early on Saturday and rang a few changes in his starting line-up.

It seemed to work, for there was a determined, industrious air about the Canaries.

Mark Ducket returned after a lengthy lay-off and Stevenson was switched to defence.

Hitchin started well, with Darrell Ellams sending a cross-cum-shot arrowing across the face of the Mangotsfield goal. An overhead kick by Dean Gilbert and a Paul Armstrong shot were both saved by Mangotsfield goalkeeper Jamie Clapham.

Ducket shot into the side netting before he created the match-winning goal. A free-kick from the left found Stevenson and he volleyed into the net from 10 yards.

The second half was even less inspiring with Mangotsfield going close with a Jon French effort that was deflected for a corner.

Armstrong and Tom Pepper both had half chances that failed to trouble the Mangotsfield defence.

Ten minutes from time, Ellams was injured in a challenge that stopped Jake Reid from getting a shot in.

So victory was at a cost, for Ellams may be out for the rest of the season.

Canaries: Perks, Pepper, Ellams (Beale 84m), Williams, Gilbert, Stevenson, Olaleye, Deeney, Pringle (Miller 68m), Armstrong, Ducket (Donnelly 68m).

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