Hard Fought Point At Hitchin

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover managed to break the run of four consecutive away defeats, with a tough 2-2 draw at Hitchin Town, having taken the lead twice.

Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Matt Bowman 3-Rhys Dolan 4-Wil Atkinson 5-Jake Bennett 6-Ethan Mann 7-Ben Sault 8-Will Trueman 9-Leon Clarke 10-Marcus Barnes 11-Oli Greaves. Subs: Fin Ryder, Stuart Beavon, Sam Tomlinson, Zach Sandhu, Brandon Ferron.

In the opening seconds of the game Hitchin had a shot wide of the post, but Mickleover were soon responding. Barnes had a great run down the right and his cross was met my Clarke, after just two minutes, scoring his first goal for the club 1-0.

In the melee for the goal, home keeper and captain Charlie Horlock needed lengthy treatment after a knock on the head, before play eventually continued.

Bosworth made his first save in the Sports goal after 10 minutes, when a good build up down the left saw Finley Wilkinson’s tame effort easily collected.

But two minutes later and it was level, when a ball in from the right was initially cleared, but Layne Eadie’s cross back into the box hit the far post and bounced into the goal 1-1.

Barnes and Greaves combined to test the home defence 17 minutes in, but the pace of the ball just beat the chase and Horlock collected.

It was still very much an end-to-end game, with both sides attempting to push forward.

Sault had his first attempt on goal after 22 minutes, it was blocked but the defence failed to clear, before Barnes picked up the rebound and shot wide.

Jack Snelus then crossed to find Eadie, but the following shot was blocked by Dolan and a corner won by Hitchin.

Greaves, Trueman and Sault were busying themselves in midfield and creating more breaks and as the half hour mark approached, Greaves jinked through on the left, the ball was aiming for Sault, but he completely missed the ball on the bounce.

Hitchin then got a break and Arnold Matshazi  charged in with a shot from the right, saved by Bosworth’s feet. From the following corner, Daniel Emovon tried a loop shot but it was straight into Bosworth’s hands.

Sault had the ball in the net after 33 minutes, but it was pulled back for a free kick to Hitchin. Only a minute late there was almost a repeat of the Mickleover goal, with Barnes again beating the defence on the right. His cross was perfection, but Clarke was maybe half a stride from connecting, which would have been a certain a second goal.

Dolan earned a 36th minute free kick after he was hauled back by his shirt, but Greaves’ free kick was comfortably taken by Horlock.

Mickleover had a final push to conclude the first half, with both Trueman and Sault having shots blocked, so as the whistle blew it remained level pegging.

Both sides went on the attack from the start of the second half, with Barnes firing over the bar after 48 minutes, before a Hitchin strike went out of the ground a minute later.

Atkinson had been busy linking midfield and defence, but picked up a Greaves cross and had space for a shot, but it was straight into Horlock’s safe hands.

Despite the makeshift back four of Bowman, Bennett, Mann and Dolan, in the absence of Fin Delap, they had looked fairly solid. Bosworth made a fairly easy save from another Hitchin effort after 51, but a minute later a great solo effort from Sault on the left, saw him cut inside and fire it wide of Horlock’s left hand to make it 2-1. “I was determined that one was going into the back of the net,” he said.

For the next few minutes Mickleover had the upperhand and forced the Hitchin defence back into their own half. Greaves had a shot saved by Horlock’s feet and the danger was cleared.

Hitchin went close again after 54 minutes, with an effort just wide of Bosworth’s left-hand post, as another player just missed connecting as he slid in.

It had been a strong 15 minute spell for Mickleover, but it soon changed as Hitchin started to push forward again. After an initial 68th minute attack had been beaten away, Eadie collected the ball outside the box. His path was clear and he sent into a powerful shot into the far corner to make it 2-2.

Hitchin were showing more keenness to shoot on sight than Mickleover, but there was another lengthy delay when Bosworth had gone down with a thigh injury.

After play restarted Barnes had a break in the 81st minute but it came to nought. But Bosworth was visibly struggling and unable to take his kicks.

Barnes, Clarke and Greaves combined with four minutes left, they won a corner, but that was cleared. Greaves won a free kick after being tripped, but on the 90 minute mark Clarke missed a header by a whisker from Sault’s corner.

With six minutes added on Matshazi had a shot over for Hitchin and Sault had another blocked. Beavon came on for Clarke for the final couple of minutes, but it remained 1-1 s we now look to Boxing Day at home to Long Eaton, with concerns over the goalkeeping situation.


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