ROBBIE Burns’ early strike ended Stratford Town’s six-game unbeaten run and kept Hitchin firmly in the promotion race in an entertaining clash at Top Field, writes Bryan Hale.
Stratford boss Carl Adams was forced to shuffle the pack with Will Grocott, Ben Stephens and Kieren Westwood all ruled out through injury, and so into the starting line-up came Charlie Faulkner, Barry Fitzharris and Jean Kalenda.
And the Canaries got off to the perfect start as they went ahead in only the fourth minute.
Ben Walster’s free-kick from out on the right was tipped over by Stratford keeper Niall Cooper and from the subsequent corner Burns glanced his header into the far corner of the net.
Stratford tried hard to respond with Edwin Ahenkorah having a 30-yard free-kick saved by Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson at the foot of his right-hand post, but on 17 minutes only Guy Clark’s interception prevented Hitchin from going two up when Matt Lench angled his shot beyond Cooper.
Cooper then made a couple of smart saves from the dangerous Matt Lench, but Stratford were within a whisker of an equaliser five minutes before the break when Clark’s header from Ahenkorah’s corner was cleared off the line by Lucas Fitzpatrick.
Hitchin continued to press in the second half with Burns, Lench and Callum Donnelly all going close but they couldn’t find a second goal to kill the game off and instead Strafford almost claimed a point ten minutes from time when Ahenkorah’s shot was beaten away by Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson.
Stratford Town: Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry (c), Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda (Sam Bethell 65), Charlie Faulkner, Barry Fitzharris, Mike Taylor, Justin Marsden, Edwin Ahenkorah.