Little charity shown
Hitchin Town 2 Ware 0 NEIL JENSEN reports Saturday s game was billed as a charity cup tie and invariably Herts Charity Cup ties are little more than supped-up friendlies but there was little charity on offer at Top Field. Some of the challenges, particula
Hitchin Town 2 Ware 0 NEIL JENSEN reports
Saturday's game was billed as a charity cup tie and invariably Herts Charity Cup ties are little more than supped-up friendlies but there was little charity on offer at Top Field.
Some of the challenges, particularly late in the game, suggested that Ware were out to upset their hosts.
But Hitchin were rarely threatened by the Ryman League Division Two champions of 2005-6 and coasted into the semi-finals of the competition where they will travel to Hemel Hempstead.
Hitchin are through to the penultimate stage of the competition because of their first-half performance.
The second half was disappointing and manager Darren Salton must have been a little puzzled why his side faded so dramatically in the second period.
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But there was plenty to please Salton in the first period as his team made hay on the flanks and sent in a string of dangerous crosses which yielded plenty.
Wayne Mills particularly enjoyed himself in the opening half hour and it was from his 14th minute cross that Chris Dillon headed the ball back to Neil Pugh who scored from close range.
Dillon's contribution in the first period demonstrated just why he was so coveted by Salton. His neat touches and willingness to bring team-mates into the action showed he is no one-dimensional forward.
Dillon had been acquired to notch goals, however, and it was in the 28th minute that he scored his first competitive goal since arriving back at Top Field.
Again it was from a cross, this time from Pugh, and Dillon stroked the ball home with ease to extend Hitchin's lead.
Ware, never lacking for effort or competitiveness, failed to seriously test Hitchin, although debutant goalkeeper Michael Parkin - who will surely push Paul Taylor for a first team slot - displayed sound handling.
If Hitchin's fans thought the tie was signed, sealed if not quite delivered, and that more goals would surely come, then they were to be disappointed.
It was only late in the game that they stepped up the tempo once more.
Pugh raced through only to be denied by Ware goalkeeper Russell Ling, and a Mark Ducket cross was met by Thomas Hayes but failed to trouble Ling.
Dillon also had a late chance but Ling pounded the ball back in his direction and in the dying seconds, Daniel French saw his volley well saved.
As a warm-up for Tiverton, this was a useful exercise for Hitchin and Salton will be pleased with the performances of people like Parkin, Mills and new boy Andy Ross, who signed before the game (see below).
There is an air of optimism at Top Field and certainly the first half suggested that if nothing else, Salton's men will lack nothing in energy and enthusiasm.
Canaries: Parkin, Cretton, Ducket, Hammonds, Folds, Deeney, Pugh, Ross, Dillon, Mills (Hayes 74), French.
* Hitchin have secured the services of the former Patrick Thistle midfielder Andy Ross.
Ross, who trialled with Hitchin in pre-season, played in the club's first two competitive games - against Salisbury and Ware - and did enough to persuade the Canaries boss Salton that he can play a part in Hitchin's 2006-7 campaign.
Ross hails from Ayrshire and is 23-years-old. Salton said: "Andy could be a vital player for us this season. He will fit in well with our style of play and he has the experience we need.