DORCHESTER TOWN 2 HITCHIN TOWN 2
DORCHESTER Town completed a spectacular come-back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against promotion-chasing Hitchin Town at the Avenue.
The Magpies went into the afternoon looking to replicate the 1-0 victory over the Canaries from when the sides met at the end of February, but knew they were in for a tough afternoon against a side who still have a lot to play for in their battle for places in the play-offs.
Craig Laird had a welcome boost coming into the weekend, with the return to fitness of defender Gary Bowles, who had been out of action since fracturing his ankle against Dunstable Town.
Bowles was joined by the returning Jordan Williams in the starting line-up, with the pair replacing Jake Mawford and Ollie Davis, who both dropped to the bench.
Dorchester set up with a different system to usual, playing a 5-4-1 formation, with Bowles slotting in between Nathan Walker and Toby Down, giving Neil Martin and home debutant Kyle Egan licence to roam forward.
The first half started in frantic fashion, with Robbie Burns dragging an effort across the face of goal for the visitors before Phil Ormrod headed wide from a corner within the first two minutes.
It was an energetic opening for the Magpies who earned three early corners, before Jon Vance fired an effort over the bar.
After nine minutes Tom Blair burst into action, wriggling clear of his man on the right flank before crossing for Ormrod who headed over the bar.
The opening goal came against the run of play as Matt Lench headed past keeper Shane Murphy from a Canaries’ counter attack.
The game settled down as Hitchin’s skipper Bret Donnelly was taken off after a lengthy stoppage for a nasty looking blow to the cheek, which saw him replaced by Liam Brooks.
Brooks looked lively after his introduction, having two efforts in quick succession which he fired over the bar.
Hitchin doubled their lead after 33 minutes when an arrowed cross to the back post hit defender Down, who couldn’t do anything as it bounced off him and into the net.
The goal was a bitter blow considering the Magpies had been equal to the Canaries for large portions of the first period, and could feel unfortunate to go in behind at the break.
It was a feisty start to the second period, and the Magpies took the lead after a series of stoppages when Blair’s cross was met by the chest of defender Ben Walster, who gave Dorchester a route back into the game.
Tempers flared when Bowles came flying in with a challenge in midfield, which saw him pick up a yellow card but could arguably have seen him receive his marching orders.
As the tempo started to rise it looked likely that their was more goals to be had in this game, as both sides committed whole-hearted to pushing forward and winning the ball when out of possession.
The Canaries started the dominate in the second half, when Burns mishit an effort before they were rewarded a corner which was cleared with ease.
Dorchester looked to freshen things up, first introducing Jake Mawford and then David Jerrard as they looked to create an opening for an equaliser.
The decision proved fruitful just minutes later as Jerrard passed to Egan whose cross found Martin who scored an excellent left-footed effort, sparking happy scenes in the dugout as the team and bench celebrated together.
Blair was then replaced by Davis who would be hoping to exploit the space down the right-flank in the closing stages.
The final stages were dominated by the Canaries, who were keen to push forward and get a winner, but Dorchester looked organised at the back, showing the fight and determination to keep the promotion contenders out.
Despite not being able to go on to get a winner themselves, the Magpies will no doubt be delighted that they could showcase the skills and maturity to grab a point from 2-0 down against one of the league’s most consistent performers.
That point makes it four against Hitchin Town this season, and will be a huge boost for Craig Laird’s young squad.
Magpies: Murphy, Egan, Martin, Bowles (Jerrard), Walker, Down, Griggs, Vance, Ormrod, Blair (Davis), Williams (Mawford). Subs not used: Mitchell, Ayunga.
Hitchin Town: Johnson, Smith, Walster, Dowie, Rolfe, Wright, Mcnamara (Spence 86), C Donnelly (Kirkpatrick 71), B Donnelly (Brooks 20), Burns, Lench. Subs not used: Clarke, Coley.
Referee: Scott Jackson
Dorchester Town Community Football Club Limited.
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