AFC come unstuck against Canaries

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Pre-season friendly: AFC Dunstable 1 Hitchin Town 4

AFC Dunstable’s unbeaten run in pre-season friendlies came to an abrupt end, as they were well beaten by a slick and impressive Hitchin Town at Creasey Park on Saturday.

Both teams were missing some regular starters and in the case of AFC, skipper Moses Olaleye and keeper Ricky Perks were unavailable, while Nathan Frater has joined Royston Town, with Charlie Gorman, having taken the season off and Bill Morgan still struggling with an injury.

While the visitors, who finished in the Southern Premier Division play-off places last term, were on top for nearly all of the first half, the home side did gift them two goals which did not help their cause.

The Canaries opened the scoring on 25 minutes when a speculative strike from Ben Walster seemed to have no threat, but somehow slipped under the AFC keeper.

Hitchin’s second goal when it came had class written all over it though as some neat one-two passing eventually saw Robbie Burns curl his shot into the top corner on 38 minutes.

It was looking like AFC would be able to regroup at half-time only 2-0 down, but again a defensive lapse crept in and Lewis McBride was left completely unmarked five yards out to turn in a Lucas Kirkpatrick cross.

With AFC manager Steve Heath trying some players in different positions in the first half, he reverted them back to their usual ones after the break, although Hitchin made it 4-0 only six minutes in when McBride notched his second.

AFC had a good shout for a penalty on the hour as Jermaine Hall got to the ball before keeper Zac Barrett and was bundled over but the match official saw it differently and gave the decision in favour of Barrett.

Hall was finally rewarded when he was blocked off and a penalty was awarded though as he stepped up to stroked the spot kick home with 15 minutes remaining.

This would be AFC’s only consolation and the Canaries easily saw out the game and a well deserved victory, although there was still time for 16-year-old Sonny Newbury Barr to be rewarded for his 300 games for AFC at youth level, with a well deserved senior debut as a second half substitute.

Boss Heath said: “So far in pre-season we have made more defensive mistakes in four games than we did all last season.

“Hitchin showed what a threat they will be for the coming season and we just could not compete with their movement and fitness in the first half.

“We now face Hemel Hempstead Town on Tuesday night and with them being a National League South side, it will be another stern test but that is what pre-season is all about.”