Leiston’s play-off hopes are fading after home defeat to Hitchin
Evo-Stik Southern Premier
Hitchin Town 2
Leiston’s play-off credentials are diminishing rapidly after this defeat against a resurgent Hertfordshire side who are surely steering themselves to safety with this win at Victory Road, in front of nearly 250 spectators, writes John Campany.
The Canaries, after seven successive defeats, have now won their last three games over the past seven days, including beating table-toppers Stourbridge Town and Kings Lynn.
An win for Stuart Boardley’s side was anticipated following a disappointing loss at Rushall Olympic last Saturday, but in contrast they are currently proving to be a meagre shadow of the side of last season, with some players, at present, clearly underperforming.
It was to be a big day for 17-year-old Harrison Bacon making his full debut, and he deserved a better platform on which to try and win his first senior start, with others around him below-par.
But there was a perfect introduction for substitute, 19-year-old William Davies, who within two minutes of coming off the bench scored to reduce the arrears in the second half.
On balance the visitors just deserved their win with only man of the match Patrick Brothers, Seb Dunbar and Marcus Garnham in fine form for Leiston.
There was a promising opening with top scorer Matt Blake testing Michael Johnson, who made a decent save and Byron Lawrence releasing Brothers, who from an angle fired a fierce shot just over.
However, it took Hitchin just 11 minutes to get in front. A free kick into the box was headed down by Harry Draper, finding an unmarked Scott Belgrove, who swivelled round to volley home.
A square ball from Dunbar gave a shooting opportunity to Bacon, whose effort cannoned of a defender for a corner and Lawrence’s cross culminated with Blake scuffing his effort in front of goal as Johnson saved.
Apart from some excellent crosses from the impressive Brothers and Dunbar, the first half was largely scrappy.
The second half started with good intent. Bacon had a shot blocked and Christy Finch tested Johnson. However, Leiston conceded again on the hour when the usually dependable Joe Jefford lost possession 40 yards out, enabling Isaac Galliford to move forward with pace and slot home beyond Garnham.
Leiston pulled a goal back on 67 minutes when Lawrence’s crossed enabled Davies to head home, but thereafter Leiston barely threatened the visiting goal despite having the greater possession.