On loan Luton Town keeper helps Hitchin extend unbeaten run to 13 games with draw against Kettering
PUBLISHED: 10:51 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:51 21 November 2016
Liam Gooch kept a clean sheet for Hitchin Town as the Canaries drew at home with Kettering Town.
The goalkeeper joined in the week on loan from Luton Town due to an injury to Michael Johnson, and in his senior debut helped Mark Burke’s men to a point to extend the club’s unbeaten run in the league to 13 games.
Both Gooch and his opposite number Dean Snedker were tested early on. The Kettering keeper had an easy task collecting from Lucas Kirkpatrick while Gooch got down to save a shot on the turn from Spencer Weir-Daley.
Snedker was then tested much more seriously by an effort from distance by Robbie Burns and had to prevent his initial save from bobbling into the net.
For Hitchin, Kirkpatrick was off target after good work by Burns and Brett Donnelly. The number nine then had two bites of the cherry as he tried a long range shot which saw the ball blocked and rebound to him before firing wide.
Liam Canavan was at the centre of things when he handled the ball and then got carded for delaying a quickly taken free-kick. When it was taken more slowly, Lewis Rolfe played it to Burns who fired over from a tight angle.
Apart from one moment when Gooch left his line - where Will Wright covered - the young keeper showed confidence, good judgement and clean handling. As the half closed, he gathered a Lewis Hornby corner and set up a counter-attack through Kane Smith and Burns before Callum Donnelly fired wide.
If the first half had been evenly contested, the start of the second half was one-way traffic as the Poppies piled on the pressure. Gooch and his defence needed to be alert and the keeper collected again from Weir-Daley while Webb hacked clear a cross from Wilson Carvalho and James Haran headed the resulting corner wide.
Brett Donnelly was cutting a more solitary figure in this half and he was substituted by Matt Lench.
The change altered the focus of Hitchin’s play as they tried to build momentum and Burns nearly connected with a Lench cross.
Kettering were still pushing forward and Gooch did well to save with his feet as Weir-Daley tried to finish off a dangerous run.
Rolfe also defended well as he read a through ball aimed at Rene Howe and just got ahead to nod back to Gooch.
Howe was influential in Kettering’s build up but also tried to get on the scoresheet only for Gooch to pull off two fine saves to deny the striker.
The Poppies also called for a penalty as the ball appeared to connect with Wright’s arm but no spot kick was given.
Hitchin had though withstood the worst of the Kettering pressure and sought to snatch a late winner. Rolfe launched an attack which ended with Lench just failing to connect with a Smith cross.
Snedker also gathered the ball from Webb first from a Canary free-kick and then from a corner.
However after those incidents and a final clearance by Gooch from a Kettering free-kick, both sides settled for maintaining their respective runs of good form after such a tight match.
Hitchin Town: Gooch, Wright, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe, Smith, C Donnelly, Kirkpatrick, B Donnelly, Burns. Subs: Lench, Brooks, Spence, King, Clarke.
Kettering Town: Snedker, Hicks, Langdon, Mulligan, Haran, Malone, Carvalho, Weir-Daley, Howe, Canavan, Hornby. Subs: Brighton, Solkhon, Westwood, White.