Hertfordshire F.A. Senior Challenge Cup – First Round
Hitchin Town 3 Boreham Wood 0
by John Mead
With Wood returning to action from their most important game for eight years and Hitchin Town returning from their longest ever trip on the road, it was The Canaries who migrated with purpose.
Ian Allinson explained his team selection and the disappointment it manifested on the night. “We had four boys away at England Trials who would all have featured. That left me with the chance to flood the field with Squad players who had the opportunity to show they were worthy of a first team place. Unfortunately aside from Rob Hastings none of those Squad players did themselves any justice. It was the old cliché of after the Lord Mayor’s Show. We just did not turn up. Let’s hope we have got it out of our system as we cannot afford to perform like that next Saturday when we travel to Histon in the F.A. Carlsberg Trophy. We feel as a Club we can do well this Season in the Competition, before we turn our attention back to the main menu, the League.”
George Wright, who features in the current “Under 18” side debuted at left back, with James Russell rested.in goal. Ben Nunn and Graeme Montgomery spent the evening on the treatment table in readiness for the weekend. Hastings almost provided the perfect start from the kick off, finding himself through with only Martin Bennett to beat he took his chance well but the ‘keeper stood his ground and saved well.
Zak Burke tested Cameron Baker-Owers in the Wood goal, before Mauro Vilhete saw his shot run wide across goal.
Callum Donnelly hit a shot bound for the bottom right hand corner which Baker-Owers did well to push to safety. Ben Jefford and Greg Morgan then set up a chance for Inih Effiong whose shot was blocked falling for Hastings who rifled a volley against the crossbar.
Wood found themselves pinned back in their own half due to some errant passing and they struggled to compete on a team basis with Town pressing hard. Donnelly lobbed an effort over the bar before he left Baker-Owers with egg on his face, lobbing the stranded ‘keeper from thirty yards to open the scoring after thirty-two minutes.
The goal of the game and Donnelly’s second came two minutes before the interval. The diminutive number six caught Baker-Owers out again, this time from fully thirty-five yards with a perfectly struck shot that was almost identical to his first high over the ‘keeper and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Hitchin Town continued to create the lion’s share of the chances after the break, with Baker-Owers forced to make a double save to deny Daniel Webb, then Burke. Effiong toiled without an end product all evening up front. Webb’s trip on the giant forward set up a free kick for Mario Noto which he fired straight at Bennett.
Cliff Akurang came on as a centre back with Jefford moving out to the left back position. Allinson then sent on Omer Riza for Vilhete, giving Wood a three pronged attack.
Yet it was the introduction of The Canaries goal machine John Frendo after seventy-five minutes that made an impact. Lee Close gave the ball away cheaply allowing Town to counter attack. Daniel Delderfield skipped away down the left wing playing a superb ball through down the left channel for Frendo who dinked his shot calmly over Baker-Owers with his first touch of the football.
In summary Allinson added, “In all honesty only three of the side that started are guaranteed starts on Saturday and on reflection of the overall performance from the Squad we may need to make one or two changes to the personnel over the coming weeks.”
Team: Baker-Owers, Close, Wright (Sub – Akurang 55 mins.), Vilhete (Sub – Riza 65 mins.), O’Loughlin, Jefford, Hutton (Sub – Isaac 45 mins.), Noto, Effiong, Hastings, Morgan.
Subs (Not used): Jones, Brown.
Goals: Hitchin Town: Donnelly 32,43,Frendo 78.
Wood Man of the Match: Rob Hastings.