Hitchin Town 2 v 1 Basingstoke Town, Saturday 23rd September 2017
The Basingstoke faithful took the 80 mile drive to Hitchin, on a day that promised decent weather and hope for an away win at another team that is generally regarded as an experienced professional team.
Pre-match pitch report: Apart from the normal slope, Top Field (as it’s known) was bumpy, lumpy and not that impressive for a late September fixture.
The line-up saw Colm McAdden return in goal, with Johnson-Schuster (Capt), Hollamby, Bayliss and Wohlfiel at the back, Collier, Kennedy, Deadfield and Artwell in midfield and McKnight & Smart upfront.
Bench; Bennett, newly signed Guri Demuria, Goater, Hart and the sun-tanned Ben Wright.
With very little report for the first few minutes, a shot by Hitchin was dragged 10yds wide in the 5th minute.
On 9 minutes, we had the ball in their box, but this was easily cleared by Hitchin.
After 15 minutes, there was a clear lack of quality play, but Stoke were getting pushed back in our own half as we seemed unable to clear the ball effectively.
On 20 minutes, we won a free-kick on the left-hand side, about 25yds out. A neat swinging cross by Deadfield was met by Dan Bayliss, but his header went five yards wide.
Three minutes later and another free-kick by Deadfield found an open Hollamby, whose free header found the base of the outside part of the post, with the keeper beaten.
On 26 minutes disaster struck, as it was one of those “Are you kidding me” moments (all expletives removed), as our reliable keeper dived full-length in trying to save the ball from going for a corner, only to palm the ball straight to a Hitchin player whose pass 15yards across the face of the goal to a Hitchin forward who tapped it home.
Hitchin 1 – 0 Basingstoke.
On 28 minutes, another corner, that doesn’t beat the first player, our fans were getting restless, as very little seemed to be going right.
In the 37th minute, after a decent break by Artwell, the Hitchin No.6 finally gets booked for dragging him down. The resulting free-kick however, gets easily headed clear.
On 41 minutes a cross from Artwell, but Smart’s shot again hits the base of the other post. Just two minutes later and a neat turn and low cross by Deadfield, gets cleared again.
Half-time 1 – 0 (No changes by us).
On 48 minutes, Smart breaks down the right and gets pulled down, but the linesman just 10yds away misses it.
53 minutes in and Hitchin break easily down our right, but the resulting shot is dragged wide of the post.
On 54 minutes, Wohlfiel gets replaced by Bennett.
On 58 minutes, another attack by Hitchin, and Bayliss is unable to clear the ball under pressure and a Hitchin forward clean on goal, pulls it wide.
On 60 minutes, the ball breaks to Deadfield, but it’s on his right foot and he can’t pull it back from the bye-line.
On 64 minutes, the linesman is up to his old tricks, as he fails to see Smart getting his shirt pulled by another Hitchin defender. Hitchin were also at this point in full time-wasting mode.
However, on 66 minutes Hitchin break and in the resulting play a volley from a Hitchin forward, finds the back of the net.
Hitchin 2 – 0 Basingstoke.
A minute later Basingstoke make their second change as Wright comes on for Artwell.
Wright seems to rejuvenate the offence and his free-kick on 71 minutes 25yds out, floats over the wall, but the keeper makes a good diving save, pushing the ball away from the goalmouth. A further shot by Wright on 75 minutes is saved by the keeper.
On 76 minutes, Basingstoke make their final change as newly signed defender Guri Demuria replaces Sam Smart. The move puts Hollamby up front.
Over the next five minutes, more pressure from Stoke, more time wasting by Hitchin, but no real efforts on goal appear.
Then on 84 minutes the ball breaks to Dan Collier, some 30yds out and his cannonball shot slams into the net with the keeper beaten all ends up.
A minute later, with the aerial presence of Hollamby and further attacks by Stoke, ends up with a Hollamby header wide, but our hapless linesman has flagged for offside anyway.
On 88 minutes, Hitchin again break and a cross, leaves McAdden out jumped by a Hitchin forward who heads it into the net, but is called for a foul on our keeper.
On 92 minutes and deep into injury time, the ball pinballs around Hitchin’s box, but Stoke fail to get a clean shot on goal and the ball is cleared to safety.
The ref blows the whistle and our second consecutive loss in the league is confirmed.
Final Score; Hitchin Town 2 – 1 Basingstoke Town
Positive of the match, was Hollamby’s performance as a part-time forward, as his aerial presence gives us something we have been lacking all season.
Negative of the match – Yet another game where we lost to a team, who are pretty average at best.
Away Match Reporter – Martin French
Onto Weymouth Tuesday and another 80+ mile trip to a team we must get something from.