Canaries crash to first home defeat in the league this season

PUBLISHED: 14:50 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:50 28 February 2017

Hitchin Town Robbie Burns. Picture: Peter Else

Hitchin Town Robbie Burns. Picture: Peter Else

Just two days after a sensational performance saw Hitchin Town thrash King's Lynn 5-0 their unbeaten home record this season came to an end with Dorchester Town the unlikely party-poopers at Top Field.

The Canaries had gone 17 games without defeat at home in the league this season and heading into the clash against the Magpies were 13 matches unbeaten in all competitions, a run that included success against National League South side St Albans City in two cup competitions.

Yet all runs come to an end and so it was that Hitchin’s did despite a strong performance with plenty of chances to claw themselves back after going behind.

Dorchester grabbed an early lead and clung on to their advantage as Hitchin could not match the fluency and efficiency that they had shown two days earlier against Lynn.

Mark Burke rotated his starting 11 as Brett Donnelly and Liam Brooks replaced Robbie Burns and Mason Spence but it was at the other end where Hitchin were exposed in the fifth minute.

Dorchester had already begun assertively before Ollie Davis on the Dorchester right got past Josh Bickerstaff.

His well-placed cross allowed Tom Blair to get in a perfectly placed – but unmarked – header to give Michael Johnson no chance.

Hitchin would not have been flustered by conceding early.

They had another 85 minutes in which to draw level, but it just was not to be.

The Canaries had the majority of possession and a Matt Lench shot that was on target cannoned off Brooks, but while Dorchester were content to play on the break, they broke in numbers and Kane Smith had to make a great tackle to halt one advance.

As the half ended, Lench fired wide while the visitors cut out a dangerous cross from the same player.

Mark Burke replaced Brooks with Burns after the break as Hitchin pushed for the equaliser and another low cross from Lench was just in front of Brett and Callum Donnelly, while keeper Shane Murphy continued to keep Hitchin at bay by pushing aside a shot from Lucas Kirkpatrick.

Murphy was forced into one of his best saves after Smith ran at the defence, played a one-two with Brett Donnelly and closed in on goal.

Dorchester remained camped in their own half as Hitchin piled on the pressure but despite notching up many late goals this season, on this occasion efforts went wide or were comfortable for Murphy.

Spence injected some energy into the attack but his best through ball bounced off the back of Brett Donnelly’s boot while Burns could not turn the game around.

Dorchester defended resolutely and were happy to be physical about it when required – chalking up four yellow cards – and getting away with a shout for a Hitchin penalty. However as the catalogue of missed chances piled up, it was clear that this was not Hitchin’s night.

The Canaries now need to return to winning ways in next weekend’s double header against St Ives and Cirencester.

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