Horror at Hayden Road for Hitchin

PUBLISHED: 09:37 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:37 30 September 2020

Hitchin Town FC.

Hitchin Town FC.


Everyone enjoys a goal fest unless your team is on the wrong end of things and the Canaries had their feathers somewhat ruffled on Tuesday night. This match turned out to be an unmitigated disaster reminiscent of the debacle a couple of seasons ago at Needham Market who, on that occasion scored one more than the Diamonds did, with Christopher Wreh scoring four goals and a hat-trick in about 20 minutes.

The visitors did play some pretty football, but the hosts proved that simplicity may well be the more effective option – and in doing so they revealed a singular inability to deal with the tried and tested route one option.

It began well enough, with some lively forward play, and an initial attack brought a corner and Ryan Smith’s attempted shot was spoilt by a stumble. Following a free-kick, cleared by Zack Reynolds, who started a forward run that was intercepted, and Dhillon, in possession, claimed he was pushed in the area, with the referee waving away the appeal. Better was Luke Brown’s effort – with his forward headed pass aiming for Callum Stead, but Richard Walton was quick off his line. Then there was a cross from Lawrie Marsh towards Stead – again the keeper intervened and sent a long pass forward to Wreh, who shot on the turn and it was one up for the hosts.

If that was naïve defending it was exposed again two painful minutes later – and Wreh again latched onto the Route One – running in from the left more or less unchallenged to double the lead.

Diamonds kept it devastatingly simple, defending attempts at a Hitchin recovery. The third goal came after a Hitchin corner was beaten away and once more the long clearance to the well-placed Wreh saw him complete his hat-trick. It made me speculate that his father might well have enjoyed such scoring feats whilst at Arsenal. Like in that irreverent song, everything that could go did go wrong and after 20 minutes Wreh had the temerity to capitalise on another Route One and make it Wreh four, Hitchin nil. Salt was then rubbed into Canary wounds when Dhillon took a tumble in the box after a challenge and as the shrill whistle went we though – oh well, at least we have a penalty. Not a bit of it – instead a protesting Dhillon was booked for simulation. What would come next we wondered, a Hitchin own goal? Horlock, playing his last game before his suspension takes effect almost handed a golden chance to Wren with a fumble, but he was able to boot the ball into touch.

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Bell-Toxtle was in place to have a go and after he lofted the ball way over the bar, there was a perceived view that they could afford such a miss. Kye Tearle, deputising for the injured Jack Green, was playing in earnest. He was involved with a couple of good moves, one of which finally brought Hitchin a goal you may say their play deserved. There were some frantic moments a in the Diamonds’ penalty area, and a low shot from Alex Marsh was parried away before Dhillon tried a header and Stead’s follow-up was saved but it was Alex Marsh who ensured that there would be at least one goal in response. This came about 10 minutes before half-time.

It may seem somewhat optimistic but even at 4-1 we felt that Hitchin could claw their way back in the second half since they had played well – if one can say that about a team that has shipped four elementary goals. In fact it just became worse.

There was the urgency there but it was accompanied by errors of short passing and the needless loss of possession in many moves. One smart piece of action culminated in Strad shooting so wide he could not hold his head and wonder at the miss. Brown and Dhillon also had a good interchange but the cross was too strong. Then Dhillon had a shot blocked and Brown’s reasonable effort was saved, but gained a corner.

Marcus Gouldbourne replaced scorer Alex Marsh but he found he could not replicate the torment he caused the Stourbridge defence on Saturday. Coldicott-Stevens’ shot also brought a corner and Gouldbourne’s cunning in-swinger almost brought a goal but the keeper saved it right on the goal-line.

Needless to say there were further creditable efforts from Rushden, with Collard’s decent shot saved by Horlock and they too had their share of corners. The fifth goal came from one of these and it was Collard who headed it home to make it five-one. That put paid to an effective revival from the beleaguered Canaries. We had played 67 minutes. Diamonds’ substitute Lorrell Smith made it 6-1 after another relatively crisp and simple move, after seventy-five minutes and we saw the spectre of that Needham Market result having a good chance of coming to taunt us again.

Tom Lorraine came close to making it seven, and with Goldbourne firing straight at the keeper we began to despair of further consolation and right in the last minute, another Rushden substitute, Jesse Akubine scored the final goal to complete the rout, 7-1 at the final whistle.

Hitchin have a few days and a vital training session to prepare for their FA Cup tie at St Albans City, and they do need to recover adequately from the horror at Hayden Road. So do we.

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