Riley on target as Arsenal XI are held by Hitchin

PUBLISHED: 23:15 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:05 11 November 2016

Chairman Terry Barratt with Pat Rice. Photo: Peter Else

Chairman Terry Barratt with Pat Rice. Photo: Peter Else

else.p@ntlworld.com

Callum Riley fired Hitchin Town to a well deserved draw against an Arsenal XI in tonight's high-profile friendly at Top Field.

The substitute was at the far post to convert Kieran Barnes’ free-kick two minutes from time as the Canaries made good on their promising performance in an entertaining game at Top Field.

Arsenal legend Pat Rice was on hand as one of many guests at the club as he officially turned on the club’s new floodlights, and under their full glare and in front of a thronging crowd Hitchin matched their opponents from start to finish.

The best part of three stands were packed full of supporters many of whom were youngsters who would have been taking in their first trip to Hitchin’s ground, and many stood in wide-eyed wonder at the red and white of Arsenal’s next generation.

But they would also have enjoyed the performance from Mark Burke’s men, and Hitchin will hope that they will come back for more to watch this in-form team who went into tonight’s match unbeaten in eight games.

And it was Burke’s side who went closest in the early moments of the game with Matt Lench firing off target and Lucas Kirkpatrick, from 25 yards, tickling the top of the netting with Dan Lincoln beaten.

Arsenal had plenty of possession in the first period but without much penetration, while at the other end Brett Donnelly forced a fine save out of Lincoln as the Canaries looked for the opener.

The half-time break saw five changes for the hosts and it brought about more possession in the early stages of the second period, leading to a Mason Spence chance which flew just over.

Arsenal starlet Nathan Tella then missed a great chance when, after doing the hard work of sending the defender the wrong way, he fired off target.

But moments later, with 64 minutes on the clock, Kaylen Hinds fired goalwards from distance. The wide man tried his luck from full on 30 yards, and his shot gracefully floated over Andrew McCorkell and nestled in the far side of the goal for 1-0.

Liam Brooks had a great chance to level the game with just under 20 minutes to go after he was gifted the ball by a defender, but he fired straight at Lincoln who was far the busier of the goalkeepers.

Arsenal then struck the bar as they looked for a second, while defender Zech Medley, the best player on the pitch, made a 50 yard run with the ball only to shoot just wide.

Hitchin then got the equaliser they deserved and it was welcomed by the cheering home fans.

It was a superb evening of sumptuous football, and next up for Hitchin is a trip to Biggleswade Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday.

Hitchin Town squad: Johnson, Wright, Lench, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe, Smith, C Donnelly, B Donnelly, Burns, Kirkpatrick. Subs: Walster, McCorkell, Barnes, Ann, Spence, Barker, Clarke, Bryant, Riley, King, Brooks, Coley, Payne.

Arsenal squad: Lincoln, Eyoma, Omole, Hinds, Ballard, Medley, Tella, Mourgos, Coyle, Burton, Thompson. Subs: Olowu, Barden, Da Silva, Osei-Tutu, Smith, Smith-Rowe, Willock.

Att: 1,160

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