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Kingstonian 0-0 Hitchin Town

With Hitchin Town rock-bottom of the form guide - having lost their previous five matches - and Kingstonian still unbeaten under Kim Harris in the league, there was only one outcome on everybody's chattering lips at a chilly - to say the least - Kingsmeadow.

England internationals Lance Key and Tim Sills were in the home side's starting eleven, with Sills partnered by Scott Edgar for the first time. The visitor's captain was none other than David Bass who made 40 appearances for K's before his year-and-a-bit spell was cut short by those well-documented financial problems.

Hitchin showed that they hadn't turned up merely to make up the numbers before the majority of the 327 crowd had even reached their positions. Dean Brennan sent in a free-kick from the right only for Carl Drew to head disappointingly wide.

This seemed to wake the K's team up, and from this moment on they really grabbed the initiative. James Pinnock and Liam Collins combined well on the right and earned a free-kick. Pinnock sent it in, Sills flicked on and Chris Whelan headed goalwards. The save was easy for James Robinson, but a few minutes later the goalkeeper was thankful when another headed effort flew wide. Again it was Pinnock crossing from the right but Edgar connecting, sending his header just wide of the far post.

One minute later and it was déjà-vu. A good run by Collins saw him release Pinnock who crossed to the middle. This time the recipient was Tim Sills, but his header also flew wide across the face of Robinson's goal.

On twenty minutes the best move of the match so far saw the increasingly influential Collins receive a throw from Max Hustwick. His flick over Dean McElroy was sublime, his cross was perfect, but Sills' subsequent header was well kept out by the goalkeeper as he dived low to his right.

Phil Wingfield was next in line to go close with his head. Another Collins cross caused confusion in the Hitchin back-line and Wingfield snuck in at the far post unseen, only to smack his header against the stanchion.

The best chance came and went ten minutes before the break. Sills headed on a long ball from the back for Scott Edgar to race Mark Burke for possession. Burke slipped leaving Edgar a free run at goal, but he chose to shoot early, sending his right-footed shot inches wide from the edge of the area.

The half ended shortly after Hustwick had limped off to be replaced by Matt Flitter, and it did so disappointingly for the home side. From the second minute to the forty-fifth, K's had totally dominated the game, but they had nothing to show for it at the interval.

The second-half was as bereft of incident as the first was of goals. There were chances, but so few that each shall hereby be described in some detail...

The first fell once more to K's, and once more it was created on the right wing. Pinnock played a fine ball in to Sills, who had run in behind the Town defence. He crossed to the middle where Edgar and James Ayers - who had a very good game marshalling the Hitchin defence - competed, with the ball spinning wide for a goal-kick. Edgar was replaced by Ronnie Green shortly after, but he ended up having as little luck as the man he replaced.

He did have one chance, not long after the hour mark, only to be thwarted by Burke. Wingfield played in the over-lapping Mark Jones on the left, who crossed to the near post. Sills touched the ball towards the goal-line, but managed to recover and get in a cross before the ball went out. Green was inches away from connecting some eight yards out, but some more solid defending kept the Town sheet clean.

The visitors did manage to craft a chance of their own in the second period. A long ball from Craig Rydehead was chased by Flitter and Matt Nolan. The striker easily managed to out-pace Flitter, only to shoot wastefully over from the edge of the K's box.

The most talked about - and most amusing - incident of the match occurred with some fifteen minutes to go. Mark Jones ran up the left touch-line and was fouled by Carl Drew. Jones went down, got up, pushed Drew, who pushed back. Once more the hand-bags came out as the majority of the players sidled up to push anyone they could see. Order was restored by referee Mr M Tingey, who produced a yellow card for both Jones and Drew.

Yet just as the game looked to be almost ready to re-start, Hitchin's Dean Brennan threw the ball away. The yellow card was brought out once more for Brennan, who accepted the card by ironically applauding the referee. The man in black took exception to this, and so produced another yellow card, and then a red. After standing around with an aghast look on his face for a few moments, Brennan straddled the advertising hoardings to take a seat in the directors box. He was subsequently informed that his shower was ready and that he really should head down the tunnel by a steward.

The game now became a test of whether ten men could hold out against eleven, and as K's know from recent experience, it is not always easy for the team with the numerical advantage. And so it proved. Hitchin packed their defence, and for the remainder of the game Kingstonian tried, and failed, to break them down.

A nil-nil draw against a team on such a bad run as Hitchin were is disappointing. The fact that this was K's fourteenth draw of the league season proves that, while they certainly are tough to beat, they don't always have that killer instinct. Still, at least there were eleven players left on the field at the final whistle...

Sat 15th Feb 2003
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Hitchin Town0
1Lance Key
2Max Hustwick14
3Mark JonesCautioned
4James Pinnock
5Peter Barnsby
6Chris WhelanCautioned
7Liam Collins
8Bashiru Alimi
9Tim Sills
10Scott Edgar12
11Phil Wingfield
12Ronnie Green10
13Adrian Jones
14Matt Flitter2
15Julian Sills
16Craig Lewington
Man of the Match
Mark Jones
Mark Jones
Match Report By
Gary Ekins