Pipeman’s Hitchin Town match report from the Hitchin Town website.
The following report is the opponents view of our Herts Senior Cup Semi-Final match v Hitchin Town FC, written by the Canaries matchday reporter, The Pipeman.
Cheshunt secured a cup double over a gallant Hitchin Town and the focal point was a goal of outstanding quality that forged the victory five minutes into the first period of extra time. This was scored by Rowan Lisburn and for home supporters it was a strike worth waiting for – and it was the most memorable moment in a match that had creaked at the joints for an underwhelming ninety minutes of this Hertfordshire Senior Cup, semi-final.
Earlier in the season the Ambers had come to Top field and secured a workmanlike victory over the Canaries in the FA Cup, but found the going at Theobolds Lane a bit more difficult – until extra time when two goals in ten minutes underlined their general superiority. Hitchin had their moments but they were none too numerous, the best chance falling to Jacob Hutchinson who with just George Marsh to beat saw the home keeper produce the save of the night. Had Hutchinson scored it would have given Hitchin the lead and may well have influenced the game in their favour.
As much as I would like to dress it up, that chance was never really replicated and Hitchin, like Richard of York, gave battle in vain. The performance was a little one dimensional but that may also apply to the Ambers who took quite some time before they mounted a serious assault on goal. One expects a semi-final, even of a domestic trophy to have moments of high excitement but tonight it was curiously missing until Liburd’s magical strike in extra time.
There is no doubt that the better team won in the end and it is reasonable to wonder why the hosts had not played in the ninety minutes of normal time in the domineering manner they did in extra time. The teams play at the same level and were fairly evenly matched, with neither able to gain the ascendancy; much of the game being a bit of a muddle in midfield, with possession won and lost with continual regularity.
If nothing else, this game could also be seen as acceptable preparation for the vital league match at Top field against Rushall Olympic, all the more important as in points per game Hitchin occupy the least favourable spot. The Ambers would have liked to have seen this one off within normal time as they have a tricky trip to White Hart Lane when they take on Haringey Borough in the League cup in just a couple of days time.
An early long throw-in was claimed by Charlie Horlock – and it was a feature of the game that their crosses and corners were of fair quality but defended with reasonable precision. Hitchin’s first forward move was halted by the off-side flag, but already Hutchinson seemed a little isolated with Steve Cawley not selected for this game.
Steve Gleeson had barely settled into this game before he was substituted, presumably injured. He was replaced by Malaki Black who did quite well in his unaccustomed role as a defender. Both Rio Dasilva and Ben Stevens had started and had contrasting games.
As if aware of the soporific nature of play, the Amber faithful behind the goal created a good deal of noise, orchestrated by their lion mascot and a chap banging on the big bass drum. Horlock received the usual jeers at each goal kick and the slightest error was celebrated fulsomely, before a mangled version of ‘Glad All Over’. Hitchin could well have done with that noisy bunch who waggled inflatable canaries and sported the green and yellow wigs- it would have livened things up – at least on the terraces.
Then there was that fine forward ball and Hutchinson’s big chance, thwarted splendidly by George Marsh who, in truth had little direct action since his defenders were adept at blocking the few other efforts from Hitchin. The corner was the ‘patent’ one and Hutchinson fired it wide and that particular style of corner was not repeated.
It was not a bad corner but the shot from Alex Brown was not mighty, but high. It came from a promising move that did suggest that more was to come, but of better quality. Cheshunt won a corner, which was close to the goal line and a melee of players seemed to pile on one another with the pink jerseyed Horlock emerging slightly dazed, but with the ball clutched to his chest.
Play was halted whilst an Amber seemed to disrobe, removing his undershirt, which could not have been for over exertion, and a minute later Gleeson departed for the bench. We had seen off twenty minutes and Hutchinson’s shot had been the only real attempt on goal from either side. A Cheshunt free kick was defended by Barker, Dasilva had a run that quickened the pulse but was robbed of the ball. Then Liburd, receiving a peach of a pass ought really to have scored but a timely tackle just deflected the ball for a corner.
Coldicott-Stevens cleared this but the ball was soon sent in again and Sam Alderson’s effort , although way to high had the home supporters chanting his name. Zac Newton had a lively forward moment but skipper Dan Webb intervened nicely. Once clear of the congested midfield Cheshunt did get the ball into the penalty area and we had a lively half minute, which favoured the Hitchin defence.
Another corner for Cheshunt saw an attempted header on goal, but Horlock denied the opportunity. The next Hitchin effort saw their pockets picked again, and passing could indeed do with being more accurate. McClean was looking useful on the left but he again lacked the telling pass. JCS sent a forward ball for the isolated Hutchinson who was outdone by the unpredictable bounce of the ball. To be honest the best entertainment, was coming from the varied chanting and that blessed drum. It was curious how low key the game seemed to be. How often I have used the expression in a league game that it was like cup-tie football and here we were in a semi-final that had the lack of real intensity, being more like a training game.
Stevens had a blocked shot and then a looping header from Webb sailed apologetically over the cross bar. It was something but not enough. I thought of that line by Shakespeare that ‘good is good but better carries it’. Hitchin won only their second corner that almost fell for Hutchinson. Dasilva launched into a run with exuberance but omitting to keep the ball with him, which we have seen before, much to our chagrin – but I never rule out the real possibility that he will dazzle to deceive before too long.
I do confess some surprise at the hosts’ lack of penetration that they showed so majestically at Top Field, but this lack of lustre could not be exploited successfully. There were indeed moments of individual skill but both teams lacked proper cohesion and I do not think that anyone was surprised that we ended the half without a goal.
I did overhear some uncomplimentary remarks on the game’s lack of excitement, which was indeed the case but not for lack of effort. There was a hint of a goal right at the end of the half when Hitchin obliged the opposition by needlessly conceding free-kicks that came to nothing. Jamie Reynolds had the best effort and it was blocked by Barker.
The second half was almost as disappointing, with both teams cancelling out efforts only to lose possession, regain it, lose it – you know the sort of thing.
Someone passing me with the view that the real excitement would come with the penalty competition, suggesting strongly that we would have to endure an inconclusive extra-time and a late night for all. One goal would liven proceedings as it unfailingly does, but so far Hitchin had not given away a free kick in an inviting position. They did for the second goal but the game was effectively lost by then.
Ekongo was lively, battling to get in crosses of varying quality, Newton began to get more of the ball. Dasilva with a piece of neat play managed a blocked shot, still keen as mustard – but Hitchin needed to pepper the box with decent passes, yet were not permitted such freedom. A Cheshunt blocked shot went for a goal kick but only the drum increased in tempo.
Ekonga and Hutchinson caused some amusement by both falling over off the ball, but we wanted excitement instead and it did not materialise in the manner befitting a cup tie. Barker shot wide. Georgio was typically inventive, but unable to cross the ball as much as he wished. JCS was a midfield dynamo but unable to reach his creative best. Horlock held a backward header, some inconclusive clearances were atoned for but real goalmouth action was entirely lacking.
Possession football was at a premium and it was indeed scrappy in midfield.Then there was the Hitchin concession of a free-kick in a dangerous position. Skipper Jo Re walloped this one with good intent and it hit the defensive wall for a corner. A shot was blocked and scrambled away into vacant space. The initiative, such as it was seemed to be leaning towards the home side but it lacked conviction. A Liburn cross brought another corner and this was headed away but a half shot came to nothing.
Hutchinson, almost in frustration sent his next chance over the bar. Horlock deflected a Reynolds shot for yet another corner, inconclusive like the others.
We were lurching towards the extra time that I suspect no-one wanted. I even envisaged a marathon penalty shoot-out, with Horlock saving the last one to see his team through. I suppose we all have scripts like that.
An extra time it was, and it was in the first half of this excruciating time that the game came to life and was graced by one of the finest goals we have seen all season. Johnny Allotey came on for hitchin as did Michael Conlon. They showed willing but it was Liburd’s sublime goal that really won this game.
We thought he was going to lay the ball off but he had other ideas and Horlock was well beaten. Ninety-five minutes. Home supported erupted in glee and players celebrated with them, gladness through was mingled with a degree of relief. Hitchin had held out obstinately but were outplayed in this golden half hour for the hosts.
Adam Crowther score the second, from a corner, after 100 minutes, but it was the icing on the cake. Right at the very end Dan Webb missed an absolute sitter but it would only have made the score more respectable as the whistle went after he had sent the ball way over the bar. If it had been a league match I would be writing that it was a hard earned point but we cannot begrudge the Ambers their win, graced as it was by two fine goals, especially the notable strike from Liburd.
Cheshunt now face Spartan side Hadley in the final and the Ambers must be favourites to take the trophy. There is indeed real meaning in Hitchin now needing to ‘concentrate on the league’, since it is the concentration needed for survival in our division and once again I report how opposition fans and officials wonder why we are in such dire straits, given our overall performance in games, games sacrificed by conceding needless free kicks and a record of ineffective defending of set pieces that rivals that of Everton.
It gives me pleasure to record the excellent and sincere hospitality of Cheshunt, and the result aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to such a fine stadium, the friendliness of officials and supporters, which was top notch and much appreciated. Tonight ended Hitchin’s involvement in cup competitions but we can take all that if we can notch up some points and get clear of the relegation zone. The struggle continues at Top Field on Saturday.
George Marsh, Enoch Ekongo, Chevron McClean, Amadou Kassarate, Adam Crowther, GOAL, 100 MINUTES, Sam Alderson, (Zubayr Boadi), Reece Beckie’s-Richard’s, Joe Re, captain, Roman Liburd, GOAL, 95 MINUTES, (Mo Canada), Zac Newton, Jamie Reynolds.
Substitute not used- Preston Edwards (GK).
Charlie Horlock, Stan Georgiou, Alex Brown, Stephen Gleeson,(Malaki Black), Dan Webb, captain, Ciaren Jones, Josh Coldicott-Stevens, Lewis Barker, Jacob
Hutchinson, Rio Dasilva, (Johnny Allotey), Ben Stevens, (Michael Conlon).Unused substitute – Josh Popoola.
Referee- Mr Jordan Gibson assisted by Mr Philip Evans and Mr Stuart Smith.
REPORT BY PIPEMAN