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14.09.2002 at 15:00 Clarence Park Attendance : 751
St Albans City
0 - 1
Hitchin Town
Referee : Martin Darlow Ryman Premier League-match

None. Tony Fontenelle (78)
Opening squads
Richard Wilmot
Dominic Naylor
Corey Campbell
Leon Townley
Rob Smith
Jon Challinor
Richard Evans
Gary Crawshaw
Scott Oakes
Simon Martin
Rob Kean
James Robinson
Jon Bone
Nick Grime
Mark Burke
James Ayres
Dean McElroy
Dean Brennan
Chris McMenamin
Matt Nolan
Tony Fontenelle
Craig Rydeheard
Derek Brown
Miguel De Souza
Ryan Moran
Gary Sippetts
Beckett Hollenbach
Matt Childs
Ian Scott
Louie Evans
Karl Spring
Mark Bridge
Miguel De Souza -> Simon Martin (56)
Beckett Hollenbach -> Rob Kean (73)
Gary Sippetts -> Scott Oakes (85)
Matt Childs -> Dean McElroy (87)
Ian Scott -> Matt Nolan (83)
Louie Evans -> Craig Rydeheard (79)
Yellow cards
Dominic Naylor (51)
Jon Challinor (65)
Dean Brennan (34)
Mark Burke (71)
Red cards
None. None
Match report

Simon Martin takes on a Hitchin defender
There is an Autumn feel to the day, today, as we welcome Hitchin Town, home of former Saint, Chris Mcmenamin, and former triallist, James Ayres. A bit of personal feeling between these sides. The Management will remember their last days at Baldock two years ago, and Wilmot, Naylor and Keen have played for Hitchin in the past few seasons. The Canaries have had a slow start this term, with one win and three draws from their 8 games.

For today, The Duo selected Wilmot in goal, 4 at the back: Evans, Townley, Campbell and Naylor; 4 in the midfield: Oakes, Challinor, Smith and Keen; and up front: Martin and Crawshaw. On the bench were Moran, Brown, De Souza, Sippets and Hollenbach.

A disappointing 1st half. City had more of the possession but on the rare occasions that they were able to break through a crowded midfield, they could not break through the visitors back 3, where Ayres and Burke were solid. The only incident for the recorded highlights on T.V. tonight was a full length save by the visitors keeper of a Challinor shot from 25 yards. H.T. 0-0.

An even more disappointing 2nd half. Chances for both sides were rare. It wasn't that the defences were on top, rather that there was little invention by either side in attack, certainly not in the last third of the pitch. De Souza came on for the below par Martin, and Hollenbach came on (to play wide right) to replace Keen (from the wide left). Naylor was pushed forward and the Duo reverted to 3-5-2, creating even more of a crowd in the midfield. (As one wag said to me: "If we are outnumbered in the middle, send for reinforcements!".) The fans seemed to have settled for a goal-less draw when, 10 minutes from time, Hitchin broke from the left and a cross was volleyed home at the far post by Fontarelle. 0-1. F.T.

For City, a disappointing game. Several players could not find third gear today, and as we know from earlier performances, they have the talent without question. The selection of Keen on the wide left in place of Hollenbach to accommodate Oakes surprised me, and when the American was brought on, he was less effective on the right than his accustomed left. Regular readers of this column will know that your correspondent is not a fan of 3-5-2 and that view is unchanged. That said, wholesale changes are not required. We remain top of the League. This is a very good team capable of very good football. A quiet chat with a couple of players to explain life at the top of The Ryman Premier League should be sufficient, and if that doesn't work, try a kick up the backside.

Hitchin will be delighted with 3 points, the first defeat of their Hertfordshire rivals this season. A dozen or more teams will play that type of football against City and I'm pleased that I don't have to watch it every week.

The crowd was, perhaps 600 or so, with around 100 from North Hertfordshire. The sponsors MotM was Naylor. For me, I would have drunk the champagne myself.

Entertainment 5/10. Atmosphere 4/10. Technical Merit 5/10. Referee 5/10.

Match report by Homer
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