Sep 19 2009 By Greg Burns at Top Field
SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE MIDS
Hitchin Town 1-2 Chesham United
A LAST minute goal from substitute Steve Obeng gave Chesham United a 2-1 victory away at league leaders Hitchin Town on Saturday.
It was extra special for the 31-year-old midfielder as it was his first appearance in a United shirt since he tore cruciate ligaments in his knee 10 months ago.
The win was earned by a fantastic second half performance which ended a run by Hitchin which had seen them win all of their opening five league fixtures and moved the Generals to within two points of top spot.
United boss Andy Leese brought full-back John Kyriacou back into the starting line-up in an otherwise unchanged side from the team which beat Harrow Borough 2-0 in the FA Cup on Tuesday night.
But the Canaries came out firing in the opening exchanges and illustrated some of the form and play which had seen them earn a 100 per cent record this season.
Former Stevenage Borough midfielder Jeff Hammond went close with a shot before 41-year-old veteran defender Mark Smith headed wide.
The Generals were struggling to keep the tempo they have showed in recent fixtures and were being panicked and pressed into lumping high balls up to Darrell Cox and Leon Archer.
They were made to pay for handing their hosts the initiative when the pacey Hammond drove to the byline before cutting the ball back for Jamie Arlick to tap home for his fourth league goal of the season on 12 minutes.
United captain Danny Talbot nearly pulled the scores level when his powerful free-kick was tipped over the bar by Canaries goalkeeper Martin Bennett.
The visitors then had goalkeeper Richard Hayward to thank for keeping them in the game as Town dominated possession and the shot-stopper was forced to save well from Arlick.
Murmurs within the home stands suggested that the first half hour of the game was the best Hitchin had played all season and in the last 15 minutes of the half United worked their way back into the game.
They had the chance to pull themselves level on two separate occasions when Leon Archer broke free of the defence but struck both his shots against the post.
The second half saw the Generals get a greater hold of the ball and begin to win the midfield battle with Dave Fotheringham and Talbot starting to pull the strings.
They eventually drew level when Talbot fired in a quality free-kick which was headed in by defender Sam Ledger arriving at the back post on 53 minutes in front of the travelling Chesham support.
Town manager Colin Payne made a number of frantic substitutions to try and boost his faltering side as United began to look like the team who should be top of the table.
But it was when Leese brought on Dom Marsala, Chris Bangura and the returning Obeng with 15 minutes to go that the game turned.
Marsala and Bangura used their pace and fresh legs to turn the Canaries defence inside out on a number of occasions as the home side's confidence wilted under the Hertfordshire sun.
And with 90 minutes on the clock Bangura found a yard of space on the left hand side, cut back and crossed perfectly for the on-rushing Obeng to slot home and prompt jubilant celebrations from players and the bench alike and earn a 1-2 victory.
After the game, United boss Leese said: "We performed so much better in the second half then in the first. They controlled the game in the beginning and looked like they wanted it more than us.
"I think we thought that we could just turn up here today and get the result after what we did on Tuesday night at Harrow Borough.
"But we got stuck into them at half-time, banged a few walls, and let them know that they needed to up their game and their desire.
"We then came out and completely bossed the game with Leon Archer and Darrell Cox causing them all sort of problems.
"It is a great win. We told the players before the game that, no matter what Hitchin had done this season, it was just another three points up for grabs.
"Now we need to kick on and keep this good run going."
HITCHIN TOWN: Bennett, Fontinelle, Grinham (Payne 46 mins), Williams (capt), Smith, Gilbert, Lewis, Hammond, Arlick, Velandia (Gentle-King 66 mins), Burke (Lee 55 mins). Subs not used: Gentle-King, L Donnelly, B Donnelly. Booked: Velandia (60 mins), Gentle-King (83 mins), Williams (86 mins). Sent-off: None. Goals: Arlick (12 mins).
CHESHAM UNITED: Hayward, Kyriacou, Ledger, Adedeji, Talbot (capt) (Obeng 75 mins), Lambert, Fotheringham, Wales (Marsala 75 mins), Archer, Cox (Bangura 85 mins), Bardle. Subs not used: Keepence, Cotton. Booked: Cox (52 mins). Sent-off: None. Goals: Ledger (53 mins), Obeng (90 mins).
Saturday, September 19
Southern League Division One Midlands: Atherstone Town 0-2 AFC Sudbury; Barton Rovers 5-2 Bedworth United; Beaconsfield SYCOB 1-2 Arlesey Town; Biggleswade Town 2-3 Marlow; Bromsgrove Rovers 5-0 Aylesbury United; Burnham 0-0 Romulus; Leighton Town 2-1 Stourport Swifts; Rothwell Town 0-0 Bury Town; Soham Town Rangers 0-2 Slough Town; Sutton Coldfield Town 2-1 Woodford United.