Hitchin too good for off-par Dorchester Town

BY: Neil Walton – Dorset Echo Sport (@EchosportNeil)

DORCHESTER Town were defeated 4-1 by a ruthless Hitchin Town in their Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division clash at the Avenue Stadium.

The Canaries stormed into a 3-0 first-half lead following a strike from Josh Bickerstaff, a Lucas Kirkpatrick penalty and a brave finish from Elliott Bailey.

Dorchester improved after the break but the tireless Jonny McNamara clinically added a fourth. Hitchin’s Trey Charles saw red for a second booking before Mo Baghdadi’s deflected free-kick gave the hosts a consolation.

Manager Steve Thompson made two changes from the side that kicked off Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Stratford Town as Baghdadi and Kyle Egan came in for Tom Blair and skipper Gary Bowles, who began a three-match ban.

Luke Winsper returned to the matchday squad from a knee injury, while goalkeeper Chris Weale captained the side.

Despite Dorchester beginning their past two matches the better side, it was the Canaries who made the more assured start, hemming the Magpies in their defensive third thanks to the industry of McNamara and Bailey.

Hitchin registered the first shot on target as Lucas Kirkpatrick was allowed to let the ball drop before firing a volley that had Weale scrambling to his right to touch the ball behind for a corner.

And the Canaries made their superb early start count when a corner routine caught Dorchester unaware as Smith’s delivery found Bickerstaff who swept home a left-footed finish.

Hitchin’s front three of McNamara, Bailey and Smith were pressing the Magpies with every opportunity but it was Kirkpatrick who scored their next goal from the spot.

Dorchester were undone from the opposition area, keeper Michael Johnson’s booming clearance setting the pacey Trey Charles free on the right, before he cut inside and teed up McNamara, whose planted shot was brilliantly saved by Weale low to his left.

Egan then scrambled back to hook Bailey’s follow-up off the line but only found Kirkpatrick, who was felled by the backtracking Baghdadi for a penalty that Kirkpatrick drilled down the middle for 2-0.

Following Charles’ first yellow for kicking the ball away, Weale then smartly saved a McNamara effort at the back post after a Smith free-kick before Kavan Cotter stung Weale’s palms from an acute angle.

Dorchester had struggled to create anything up to that point, such was the weight of Hitchin’s pressing game, but they nearly scored when Egan’s header found Lanahan, whose deft flick failed to trouble Johnson.

Hitchin almost grabbed a third when Smith smacked a shot against McNamara, the ball bouncing narrowly wide with Weale beaten.

But the Canaries made it 3-0 through neat interplay from Kirkpatrick and Smith, who found Bailey to fire home from 12 yards before he was clattered by Weale.

Dorchester finished the half the stronger side and might have scored if Billy Lowes’ cross had not drifted over the unmarked Lanahan, who was lurking in the six-yard area.

Thompson waited just five minutes into the second half before introducing Ed Bastick and the winger immediately improved the hosts with his energy and direct running.

However, on 55 minutes Hitchin scored an incisive fourth with Smith’s majestic pass splitting the Dorchester defence and freeing McNamara, who clipped the ball over the advancing Weale from 20 yards.

Hitchin then allowed Dorchester to re-establish themselves when Charles earned a second yellow for a needless tackle from behind on Neil Martin.

Charles’ dismissal saw Hitchin retreat and substitute David Jerrard was unlucky to see a shot from 12 yards bravely blocked by Bickerstaff.

Dorchester did score a consolation when a Baghdadi free-kick deflected off the wall, wrong-footing Johnson before looping in.

Thompson’s men almost gained a second when Jerrard’s low drive was flicked towards goal by Antonio Diaz, but his effort was too close to Johnson.

Hitchin then ran the clock down, with sub Toby Syme booked for time-wasting, to close out an impressive win with ease.

Magpies: Weale, Egan, Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Lanahan (Blair 68), Diaz, Lowes, Ormrod (Jerrard 67), Panesar-Dower (Bastick 50), Baghdadi. Subs not used: Winsper, Brookes.

Hitchin: Johnson, Cotter (Syme 78), Walster, Rolfe, Webb, Bickerstaff, Charles, Kirkpatrick, Bailey (Hartkey 86), McNamara, Smith (Dowie 80). Subs not used: Donnelly, Vincent

Referee: Colin Hubbard (Wimborne)

Attendance: 318