FA Cup: Haringey Borough 1 Hitchin Town 1
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A replay will be needed after a thrilling draw between Bostik North side Haringey Borough and Southern League Hitchin Town in the first qualifying round.
Hitchin had taken the lead after dominating the first half but Borough fought back to equalise in the second half and the visitors had to hold on for a draw.
The game started fairly even in midfield with lots of aerial duels, while Hitchin’s Liam Brooks took on a long shot before Borough broke dangerously through David Olufemi, whose cross was blocked.
Brooks then almost broke clear but went too wide and his shot was comfortably saved by Valery Pajetat.
Hitchin scored the opening goal of the game from a break started from keeper Michael Johnson, who threw the ball out to Callum Donnely for him to play it to Lewis Rolfe.
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After Rolfe slid in Josh Bickerstaff, his cross was put into the net by Liam Brooks via a deflection for a brilliantly worked goal.
The visitors were having the better of the game in the rest of the first half with lots of possession and neat passing.
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And a Brooks header was then tipped on to the post by Pajetat before a corner for Borough finally came but was easily claimed.
Haringey’s Ralston Gabriel then took the ball down well on the break, but his shot was well over.
And Kai Heather then hit the crossbar for the hosts with a brilliant dipping long shot after making space with a dummy.
Borough had found some momentum now and Gabriel went clear and rounded Johnson, but went too wide and couldn’t get a shot on target.
It should have been 2-0 for Hitchin soon after as Brooks sidefooted a good chance wide, but then Gabriel went clear for Borough and took it past the keeper again, but just like before his touch was too heavy and the ball couldn’t be squeezed in.
Despite Hitchin controlling large parts of the first half, Borough should have gone in to half time level but the visitors managed to hold on to their lead.
There was an end-to-end start to the second half with both sides moving the ball quickly and Haringey’s Michael O’Donoghue almost broke clear before being tackled.
Gabriel nearly got clear again but Johnson tackled and the ball went out for a throw, then Heather won the ball just outside Hitchin’s box and curled an effort just over.
Borough sent on Michael Ademiluyi for Quba Gordo, but Lucas Kirkpatrick fired a powerful 35-yard volley for Hitchin that struck the crossbar with Pajetat stranded.
Shortly after Rakeem Richards equalised for Borough after substitute Ademiluyi collected the ball on the right and drilled across goal for the latter to turn into the net.
Anthony McDonald then rounded Johnson and thought he had scored a second for Borough, only to be flagged offside.
And both sides made changes, as Hitchin’s Elliot Bailey came on for Ben Walster as Haringey’s Ayrton Coley came on for McDonald.
Borough were in full control now and kept threatening down the left, but they couldn’t quite open up Hitchin who looked to be holding out for a replay.
Joseph Benjamin then came on for Heather and straight away he drove at the visiting defence and laid the ball off for Ademiluyi whose shot was saved for a corner.
Gabriel put in a low cross for Borough which was very close to being turned in, but Hitchin’s Brooks left a home defender for dead but shot straight at Pajetat as it ended all square.
The two sides will do battle again at Hitchin’s Top Field on Monday with £3,000 prize money and a place in the second qualifying round up for grabs.
Haringey Borough: Valery Pajetat, David Olufemi, Michael O’Donoghue, Quba Gordon (Michael Ademiluyi), Scott Mitchell, Lawrence Yiga, Rakim Richards, Ruaridh Kay, Ralston Gabriel, Kai Heather (Joseph Benjamin), Anthony McDonald (Ayrton Coley). Unused subs: Christopher Benjamin, Daniel Aristidou, Alfie Bartram, Austin Byfield.
Hitchin Town: Michael Johnson, Jay Dowie, Ben Walster (Elliott Bailey), Lewis Rolfe, Dan Webb, Connor Roberts, Lewis Kirkpatrick (Kieran McCaffrey), Callum Donnelly, Liam Brooks, Jack Green, Josh Bickerstaff. Unused subs: Charlie Smith James Goode, Toby Syme, Danny Clifton, Tremayne Charles.