HITCHIN TOWN 1 BISHOP’S STORTFORD 0
BLUES suffered injury time heartbreak for the second successive Saturday as Joe Robinson’s 92nd minute own goal gave Hitchin the points.
It was harsh on the visitors who shaded the match for the majority of the proceedings and gave a hard working display before falling to a fifth defeat against the Canaries this season as they failed to convert their chances.
Marvel Ekpiteta was missing as he was starting his two match ban incurred after the sending-off against champions Hereford, with George Casey moving alongside Robinson in the centre of defence.
Jack Thomas returned to the starting line-up after missing the Basingstoke fixture in midweek through injury while Jamie Cureton also played the full 90 minute..
The Blues made a steady start and Thomas almost put Cureton through on goal in the second minute but then, four minutes later a long ball forward by Robinson did put the veteran striker through on but his lob over keeper Michael Johnson veered past the far upright by a couple of feet.
The hosts, who had won the Southern League Cup three days earlier, threatened for the first time after 14 minutes as a first time effort from Josh Bickerstaff was over the target following a Hugo Logan corner.
There was then a period of even play with few openings but Hitchin’s Jonny McNamara nearly took advantage of a weak back-pass from Casey in the 25th minute but Calum Kitscha easily smothered an under-hit effort from the home midfielder.
When Jordan Westcott was fouled just after the half-hour a free-kick from Darren Foxley, making his 50th Blues appearance, swung just wide and then in the 36th minute Foxley and Cureton linked on the left with the latter making tracks for goal and seeing his angled drive scrambled away by Johnson.
Stortford continued to have the edge up to the break with a Robinson header going wide after a Foxley corner.
Skipper Mark Hughes’ header was close but wide in the 62nd minute from a Foxley free-kick, however, the hosts then entered a good spell.
A Logan corner produced a goal-bound header from Dan Webb that Kitscha did well to tip over the bar. Then, another Logan flag-kick saw Webb’s low shot deflected away near the goal-line for another corner.
Entering the final 20 minutes a Foxley corner fell to Alfie Mason a few yards inside the box and the youngster’s shot was deflected for another corner.
The Blues were now creating some openings that should have seen them go ahead.
Tom Clifford’s pass up the left flank gave Cureton some space to fire in shot from distance that Johnson saved high at his near post.
Two minutes later the striker came even closer as he collected a ball forward from Hughes and from a tight angle sent his shot agonisingly rolling across an unguarded goal and past the far upright.
In the 80th minute Mason found Cureton towards the back post but defender Toby Syme got back to block the shot away for a yet another corner.
The hosts went close when skipper Webb had his header turned round the post by Kitscha after a corner from Logan and then Donnelly’s flick was cleared off the goal-line by a combination of Kitscha and George Casey in the 88th minute before, seconds later, the ball was in the Stortford net but the Stortford stopper had been fouled by Donnelly.
Three minutes stoppage time was added on at the conclusion of normal time and in the second of these the Canaries grabbed the winner.
The Blues’ defence seemed to lose concentration as keeper Johnson blasted a free-kick from his own half deep into the Stortford box and when Dan Webb did well to stretch and divert the ball across the six yard box Robinson could only divert it into his own net to break the visitor’ hearts again.
STORTFORD: Calum Kitscha; George Casey; Tom Clifford; Mark Hughes; Joe Robinson; Max Brassington; Jordan Westcott; Jack Thomas; Alfie Mason; Jamie Cureton; Darren Foxley.
Unused substitutes: Chad Cruse, Marcus Crowther, Jamie Riley and Callum Lynskey.
HITCHIN TOWN: Michael Johnson; Toby Syme; Daniel Olanrian; Josh Bickerstaff; Dan Webb; Kevin Byrne; Patrick Tshikala (Jack Green 61); Hugo Logan; Brett Donnelly; Robbie Burns; Jonny McNamara
Unused substitutes: Connor Vincent, Charlie Smith, Matt Spring and Desejado Da Silva
Referee: Tom Bishop