Dunstable Town play out goalless Boxing Day clash

Dunstable Town v Hitchin Town PNL-151229-092236002

Dunstable Town v Hitchin Town PNL-151229-092236002

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Dunstable Town took a point despite playing well below their best in a Boxing Day derby that lacked the fizz of previous encounters.

Hitchin had won the corresponding fixture at Topfield 4-1, but failed to replicate that kind of form in front of a season’s best 291-strong crowd at Creasey Park.

With last week’s game at Redditch postponed, it was of interest to see of the hosts could continue their good form which saw them put five goals past Bideford and win 2-1 away at Paulton.

The game was littered with errors, many unforced and many the cause of a rogue wind. Passes were ill-judged, and Dunstable in particular looked out of rhythm.

The front two – Connor Calcutt and Gary Wharton playing against his former club – were eager but had little to work with. Calcutt held the ball up well but often found himself attended by no fewer than three defenders.

The closest either side came to a goal in a dull first half was an abruptly defended almost own goal from Adam Pepera. Dunstable did no more than contain the Canaries and were a little fortunate not to concede and this was in part due to Hitchin’s inability to finish the chances they created.

In the second half Dunstable improved their play as the visitors seemed to decline. Connor Calcutt had been replaced at the start of the second half by Lee Roache, owing to the hardworking striker’s feeling unwell.

Roache was an able replacement but soon found himself in the book following a late challenge on Horlock for a 50-50 ball.

A decent free-kick from Hitchin was inches over the bar, with keeper Paul Bastock’s body language suggesting that it was a lot higher than it was.

One long free kick from Bastock reached Roache who held it well but Horlock was quick off his line to spoil that one. Roache is still undergoing the search for his best form, but he cannot be faulted for effort or loyalty.

Webb’s header then went wide but the best chance for Dunstable was Luke Pennell’s shot that was just deflected to safety.

There was a sniff of a late goal when Steve Wales’ scuffed shot from six yards could have garnered all three points for Dunstable, but it would have been more than the home side deserved.

Dunstable sit sixth in the Southern League table, level on points with fourth placed Weymouth, Hitchin in fifth and Redditch just below them but they have played more games than all of them. They head to Chesham United in the league on Saturday, January 2.