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Costly errors spell defeat for Stratford Town

Liam Francis heads home Town's equaliser against Hitchin. Photo: Steve Wood
Liam Francis heads home Town's equaliser against Hitchin. Photo: Steve Wood

LOUIS Connor made two costly errors as Stratford Town were beaten 2-1 by Hitchin Town at the MoodChimp Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Stratford goalkeeper was at fault for both Hitchin goals on an evening where Town were a shadow of the side that won so convincingly at Farnborough on Saturday.

Jekyll and Hyde Town produced a clinical display at the HGV Stadium, scoring four goals in 21 explosive minutes, yet three days later they served up an error-strewn performance that leaves their hopes of a top-ten finish in tatters.

Connor may have made the mistakes that led to the two Hitchin goals, but, ultimately, this was a poor team performance where no Town player played anywhere near their best.

Justin Marsden, who was so impressive at Farnborough, missed the game due to a back injury, with Eli Bako replacing him.

In a lively start, both sides could have been ahead within the opening few minutes.

Almost straight from the kick off, Town forced a corner, from which centre-back Loyiso Recci headed inches over.

Hitchin responded immediately when a hopeful hoof over the top left the Town defence flat-footed and Jonny McNamara, with only Connor to beat, placed his effort horribly high and wide.

However, the visitors made amends just five minutes later. Charlie Smith’s low drive from 25 yards was stopped by Connor, but the ball fell straight to the lurking Jonny McNamara, who tucked it away with ease.

Stratford were deservedly back level three minutes later when man-of-the-match Will Grocott’s expertly-taken corner was headed home by the towering Liam Francis.

However, Hitchin were back on top in the 25th minute with what turned out to be the winner.

A ball into the Town box saw Connor call for it and as Francis attempted to duck the header, it hit the defender on the top of his back and then struck Connor’s knee, providing Hugo Logan with a simple tap-in.

Stratford dominated much of the possession and territory in the second half in search of a second equaliser, but the visitors’ defence gave little away as Adams’ men struggled to piece together a clear-cut chance.

Town pressure eventually brought a late flurry of chances. With 11 minutes to go, a Grocott free-kick was well saved by Joshua Mollinson, while moments later Mike Taylor fed Jazz Luckie in, but the substitute somehow spooned his effort over from ten yards.

Then, as the game headed in to added time, Dan Summerfield saw his fierce effort from a tight angle well saved by Mollinson and Eli Bako’s follow-up was bloked on the line as Hitchin somehow held out for a well-earned three points.

This was Town’s third home defeat on the trot and hardly the ideal preparation for title-chasing King’s Lynn’s visit to the MoodChimp this Saturday.

Stratford Town: Louis Connor, Dan Summerfield, James Fry (c), James Hancocks (Lee Thomas 65), Loyiso Recci, Liam Francis, Eli Bako, Edwin Ahenkorah (Jazz Luckie 65), Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Ben Stephens. Subs not used: Dean Poulson, George Dawson.

Hitchin Town: Joshua Mollinson, Toby Syme, Ben Walster, Lewis Rolfe, Josh Bickerstaff (c), Matt Spring, Trey Charles, Charlie Smith, Jonny McNamara (Patrick Tshikala 60), Brett Donnelly, Hugo Logan (Lucas Kirkpatrick 82). Subs not used: Robbie Burns.

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