by Peter Scherer
The first of Mickleover’s Christmas game sees us head south to face fourth in the table Hitchin Town. They were 2-1 victors at neighbours St.Ives last Saturday, but they are looking to get back on form at home, having had three successive defeats, at the hands of Leiston, Leamington and Stamford.
It will a tough challenge for Mickleover though, with a few injuries at this critical period, and coming after a run of four successive away defeats.
Manager Mark Burke has been in charge of the Canaries for over nine years and retained much of his squad from last year, which saw the Canaries do the double over Sports, 1-4 on our visit to Top Field last November and 1-2 on the return in January. But when they came to the Don Amott Arena in August, it was Sports the victors 2-1.
Goalkeeper and captain Charlie Horlock has been at Top Field for four years, since signing from Hastings Utd. He started his junior football at Wycombe Wanderers and Stevenage and was loaned to Hendon and Harrow, before coming to Hitchin on loan too in November 2014. He then made a permanent move to our hosts a year later, before moving to Eastbourne. But after a three-year absence he was back at Hitchin.
Josh Mollison is the second-choice keeper and Academy coach. A former Hitchin youth player he had loans at Biggleswade, Barton Rovers, Potton Utd and Eynesbury Rovers too.
Full back Stan Georgiou is a home- grown talent who has been a regular starter since the second half of 22/23 season. He captained the clubs Youth Cup team and also had a loan spell at Letchworth Garden City Eagles.
Kye Tearle is a defender or midfielder who came from the Pro Direct Academy in Baldock. He is in his fourth season with the first team squad.
Fellow defender Lewis Barker arrived at the start of the 2019/20 season, after five years at Baldock Town.
Toby Syme is s full back in his second spell with the club. He came from one Canaries team to another, after leaving Norwich City in 2017. He moved on to Kings Langley a year later, before spells at Leverstock, Tring Athletic and Harpenden, were followed by his return to Top Field in August 2022.
Defender Layne Eadie came from Harlow Town. He started with Luton Town and Stevenage, moving on to Leighton, Barton Rovers and Biggleswade, before his first spell with St.Albans. In 2013 he joined Harlow and has played at Wingate too, before his first stop at Hitchin in 2019. He had further spells at St Albans and Harlow before coming back to Hitchin.
Irish midfielder Stephen Gleeson was spotted by Wolves when he was playing junior football for Cherry Orchard FC. He spent a few years on loan at Stockport County before a permanent move to Mk Dons. He then moved on to Birmingham City, Ipswich and Aberdeen, before coming back to England with Solihull Moors. He came to Hitchin in November 2021 after four months at Hemel.
He was capped by the Republic of Ireland at full, Under 17, 18, 19 and 21 levels and has played over 400 league games in the Championship, League One & Two and Scottish Premiership, scoring 27 goals.
Defender or midfielder Malaki Black came from MK Dons in July 2021, while fellow midfielder Bradley Bell arrived for his second spell in summer 2022, from Barton Rovers. He had initially left to join Biggleswade in 2020 and has also played for Royston and Cambridge City, having started at MK Dons.
Kavan Cotter is a defensive midfielder and a former Arsenal, QPR and Luton Town junior. He was loaned to Hitchin in 2017 and Oxford City, but after his release from the Hatters he joined Hemel. He moved on again after one season, joining Wealdstone for a two-year spell, arriving at our hosts in March from Wingate FC.
Left back Daniel Emovon was a pre-season signing, who came from Wingate. He had previously been at Hemel.
Isaac Galliford is another former Luton Town junior and England C International. He was loaned to St.Neots before his release, but then headed for the US, spending two years with Butler Bulldogs. On his return in 2018 he spent a year at Hitchin, before moving to Hemel, Royston, Hendon and Potters Bar. He came to our hosts pre-season from Kings Langley.
Pre-season signed centre back Ciaren Jones is an ex Luton Town and Norwich City Junior too. He started last season at Brackley, having joined them from Gloucester City in July 2022. He also played for South Shields and spent a week at Hitchin in 2020, before his move to Gloucester.
Striker Diogo Freitas-Gouveia originally came to Hitchin on loan from Colchester Utd in 2019/20. He was also loaned to Brightlingsea and Maldon & Tiptree, but made his move to Hitchin permanent following his release during summer 2022.
Jack Snelus arrived from Rushden & Diamonds in September last year. A striker, he was another ex Luton Junior and has also played for Hemel and St.Ives Town.
Midfielder Finley Wilkinson was another summer2022 signing from Histon, after coming through their Youth Scheme.
Daniel Idiakhoa came to Hitchin on loan from Luton in December 2022, having previously been at Newport Pagnell. The young midfielder has now returned permanenlty from the seasons start.
Striker Arnie Matshazi only arrived in October, having signed from Braintree. He was a Junior at MK Dons and Blackpool, before joining Wycombe Wanderers on his release. Loans at Slough and Hemel followed before he went to Braintree at the beginning of this season.
Midfielder John Freeman is another recent signing, coming from Cambridge City in October. He has spent most of his career at MK Dons, with loans at Kempston Rovers, Wantage, St.Neots, Woking and Chelmsford, before spending last season with Cambridge City.
Defender Dempsey Thomas, Harry Dollimore and striker George Devine have been sharing their time between Hitchin and Baldock Town, Dollimore had previously played for Letchworth Eagles too.
Joel Jolly, Chris Khoo and Harry Silver have all joined the squad this season too, as products of the Canaries own youth scheme.
Finally Jermiah Luwero is a striker who played for Woodford Town and Staines before joining Hitchin.
Kick off at Top Field is 3pm and it’s an all ticket match.