Southern League Premier Division Central
Callum Stead 45
Ready Stead-y go for Hitchin as Callum's goal guides Canaries to vital win over Royston
- Credit: PETER ELSE
Callum Stead’s first-half strike handed Hitchin Town victory in the A505 derby and hoisted the Canaries closer to Southern League safety.
The forward's header on the cusp of half-time was all it took to separate the teams in what was a scrappy affair.
The home side came into this game full of confidence, after a 3-2 comeback win in their previous game against Redditch, and it showed early on.
Ed Asafu-Adjaye snuck round the defence to meet a cross with a diving header, two minutes in, but his acrobatic attempt was flicked wide.
Despite the early chance, the opening 45 minutes had been starved of quality for large parts of it, with the ball getting stuck in the mud at times.
With the surface proving a challenge, set-pieces became an important factor and with half-time looming Josh Coldicott-Stevens’ whipped free-kick was met by Stead, whose header crept past Dimi Kyriatzis.
Stead had passed up a chance to put the Canaries in the lead moments before the breakthrough, finding himself with space in the box but the goalkeeper was there to thwart any chance.
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The 23-year-old stopper continued to find himself having to deny Hitchin’s goal scorer.
With Royston camped in their visitors' half during the second period, counter attacks were available for Mark Burke’s men.
In the 59th minute, Stead had a chance to finish one of those breakaways. The winger picked up the ball in his own half and finished his surging run with a shot straight at Kyriatzis.
With the game almost at its conclusion, Royston had a chance to snatch a point through Matt Bateman.
Marcus Gouldbourne’s lofted cross fell on to the head of the forward but he planted his effort wide, to a cheer from the travelling fans who celebrated a vital win.
The result moves Hitchin out of the bottom two while Royston remain eight points behind the play-off places.