Hitchin draw with Slough
PUBLISHED: 15:15 10 January 2011
Canaries, Manchester United and Newcastle in unbeaten club
HITCHIN Town may have been held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Slough at the weekend but they remain just one of three unbeaten teams in the top eight levels of the league pyramid.
Only Manchester United, in the Premier League, and Newcastle Town, in the Northern Premier League First Division South, have also yet to be beaten, but as the Canaries have played one game more than the red Devils and four more than Town there’s, it could be argues, is the best record in the land.
This was a full-blooded game played between two decent sides which ended all-square – a reasonable outcome for the Canaries and one that continued their record-breaking unbeaten run.
Nobody was upset at coming away from Holloways Park with a point, but the game confirmed what many people had felt about the home side – Slough are one of the better teams and should be up in the play-off zone at the end of the season.
The game was marred, if that is the right term, by some erratic refereeing. Mr Phipps sent Slough’s Shaun Byrne off and ignored a host of similarly destructive tackles by both sides.
Byrne’s tackle appeared dangerous, but he achieved folk-hero status as he trooped off, applauded by the Slough fans, the perverse nature of football coming to the fore
That incident aside, Slough gave Hitchin a testing afternoon but it was the Canaries who took the lead after 10 minutes with Mr Phipps awarding a penalty for a push after Hitchin had scored with the advantage.
Fortunately, Tony Fontenelle, who scored at Holloways Park from the spot in November, netted the spot kick, his second goal in successive matches.
Hitchin had a purple patch, but John Frendo and Tom Pepper spurned good opportunities. Slough almost levelled when Danny Burnell’s effort looked goalbound, but Pepper cleared off the line.
It was no surprise that Slough levelled five minutes before the interval, Simon Martin’s shot-cum-pass reaching Stuart Swift at the far post and his low shot beat Martin Bennett.
Just after the interval, Zak Burke struck the woodwork with a fierce drive that took a slight deflection.
In the 55th minute, however, Slough were reduced to 10 men with Byrne’s dismissal. It didn’t seem to make much difference, as the Rebels fought tigerishly for the remaining half hour.
Indeed, when Burnell turned and took a shot at goal it was only a good save by Bennett that prevented Slough going ahead.
Hitchin also had chances and Jamie Arlick just failed to connect after a good run by Burke.
Fontenelle, with an angled drive, and Frendo’s close range effort also threatened to give Hitchin the win but in the dying seconds it could have been celebration time for Slough but for a goal-line clearance.
Hitchin won’t have many more difficult fixtures in the second half of the season.
Watch Slough, that is the message from this game.
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