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Wednesday night is Hitchin night

Hungerford slip to fourth for want of a goal and now it's travel time in play-offs

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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19-2413F Hungerford V Merthyr Town

Bidding for a repeat - Matt Day close to winning it at Leamington

Leamington 0 Hungerford Town 0

SO it’s Hitchin Town away on Wednesday night as Hungerford could not conjure up the goal that would have swept them into second place and swept Leamington out of the play-offs altogether.

That would have meant Kettering Town visiting Bulpit Lane next week, instead of an awkward trip to Hertfordhsire, where Hungerford went down 2-1 in February - the last time that they were beaten on the road.

“We went to Hitchin and they beat us 2-1,” said Hungerford manager Bobby Wilkinson, “but it was just two set plays.

“I don’t realy care if we are home or way,” he added, “though it would have been nice for supporters.

“We’re not worried about going there and I think they will be more worried about uis, because we will set up as we normally do to go away and we do it right.

“It will be very, very interesting and we will be ready. The boys are confident.”

Leamington could not afford to lose Saturday’s game and they set up accordingly with only Danny Dubidat up front and Sam Austin as the focal point of attack on the break, and they eventually hauled most players back to ensure no slip-ups in the second period.

It was a game of few chances as a result - ‘boring’ as Wilkinson described it - although an early slip by Paukl Streudley gave Jack Edwarda a sghoiotihng chance he blasted over.

Garyn Preen cut across the box to fire a shot just wide at the other end, and Stefan Brown got around the back but his cross fell just behind Preen in front of goal in the first period.

Austin was Leamington’s biggest threat and he gave Callum Gittings a chance he wasted after he interval, but the nearest thing to a goal came from Hungerford when Matt Day met Preen’s corner and goalkeeper Tony Breeden got down well to save by his post.

James Clark put a half-chance wide before Gittings had Leamington’s best opening when linking with Dubidat to go through, but Strudley stood firm to block his effort at point-blank range to leave both sides with a point that did Hungerford little harm, but the home side a lot of good and they will now go to nearby Redditch United for their play-off semi-final, also on Wednesday.

Leamington: Breeden; Taundry, Hood, Mace, Gudger; Moore (George 72), Gittings, Halsall (Elvins 68), Edwards, Austin; Dubidat (Mackey 84). Subs: Baker-Richardson, Ogleby.

Hungerford Town: Strudley; Horgan, Day, Jones, Tyler; Clark, Herring (Rusby 60), Rees, Preen; Brown (Jarvis 60), Draycott (Goodger 60). Subs: John, Boardman.

Referee: Guy Stretton (Leicester). Attendance: 721.

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