Gordon-Douglas makes Hitchin suffer as St Ives Town claim a valuable three points

Callum Stead's return to Hitchin Town could not prevent them from slipping to defeat at St Ives Town.

Callum Stead's return to Hitchin Town could not prevent them from slipping to defeat at St Ives Town. - Credit: PETER ELSE

St Ives Town picked up a  massive three points - winning for the first time since mid-August.

The 1-0 victory at home to Hitchin Town was made all the sweeter as it came in what was being billed by supporters from both sides as an early season relegation six-pointer.

The Canaries arrived at Westwood Road sitting rock bottom of the table, just two points and two places below their struggling hosts.

The true irony of the result was that Urijah Gordon-Douglas, who got the winner, had been a Canary until just over a week ago.

A cagey start was expected but that was not the case as both sides started positively with both keepers called into action in the first few minutes.

Hitchin's Charlie Horlock beating Nabil Shariff to a Gordon-Douglas flick in the fourth minute and two minutes later his Ives counterpart Ben Heath had to show that he was similarly alert as he just managed to grab the ball off the toes of Luke Brown.

Play continued to swing end to end in the early exchanges and keeper Horlock made a comfortable save to a well-struck 25-yard effort from Dylan Williams.

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Probably the best of the early opportunities was created and missed by Luke Brown as he got on the end of a flick from Malaki Black, got past Brett Solkhon and tried to lob his effort from the edge of the box over the advancing Heath.

The ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The busy Williams was played in down the left by Camron McWilliams two minutes later but his attempted right-foot curler from a narrow angle drifted just past the far post.

The game looked like it was settling down into the tight encounter when Gordon-Douglas struck.

He started and ended the move, roaming forward on the left before picking out Williams on the right touchline with a brilliant cross-field ball.

Williams had time and space to tease a cross to the back post where Gordon-Douglas had continued his run, ghosting in completely unmarked.

A free- threatened to bring Hitchin level kick brought more danger three minutes later. This time Ben Toseland was the man to conceded it as he upended Rio Da Silva inches outside the right edge of the box after the tricky visitor’s number nine had bustled past McWilliams. Alex

Brown curled the ball over the four-man wall but inches wide of Heath’s left-hand post while the keeper pounced on a Lawrie Marsh effort at the second attempt to prevent Kye Tearle from scoring.

Ives one real chance in the remainder of the half saw Williams hit the side netting.

There was some good news for the visitors at the break as their talismanic striker Callum Stead, released by Northern Premier League Premier Division South Shields, came on a the interval.

Ives came out for the re-start determined to hang onto what they had got.

The slow build up from previous games had gone and the ball was moved forward to the hard working quartet of Sharrif, Gordon-Douglas, Williams and Jack Snelus at every opportunity.

The hosts were still continuing to concede free-kicks in dangerous areas and this almost lead to their demise in the 51st minute, the wall seemingly disintegrating to allow Tearle’s shot through.

Heath came to their rescue though, getting down to his right and hanging on well.

The Canaries continued to go in search of a route back into the game but the resilient Ives back line ably assisted by considerable amounts of hard work from midfield and attackers covering back.

Rio Da Silva and Marsh combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Stead but his effort from a narrow angle was into the side netting, and the substitute was involved again on 72 minutes as he fed in Da Silva on the right.

His powerful low cross just evaded Black sliding in at the back post as it skipped off the wet surface.

Ives came close to a clinching goal in the 77th minute.

Williams' initial cross from the right took a deflection and over the head of Horlock. Akubuine was also almost deceived by the spin but just managed to smuggle the ball out for a corner off his body.

The resulting corner from the left was only half cleared to the edge of the box where Nabi caught it perfectly on the half volley.

Unfortunately for the Ives substitute his goal bound effort struck Gordon-Douglas on the six yard line and was scrambled clear.

Having failed to get the second goal to sew the game up Ives were always vulnerable sitting on their slender single goal lead and with a makeshift centre back pairing.

And the visitors spurned two golden opportunities to get something from this game with 10 minutes to go.

Stead got fed through the centre and although he beat Heath with a low shot from the edge of the box, he was denied the equaliser as the ball deflected wide of the bottom of the post.

Two minutes later Black also got through on a similar track but much to Ives relief he seemed to lose control of the ball as Heath came to meet him allowing the keeper to make a brave claim on the edge of his box.

There was one final opportunity for the Canaries to try and get something from the game and they threw caution to the wind with keeper Horlock up for a 95th minute free kick.

The ball was comfortably cleared and substitute Nathan Hicks galloped away up the park to get on the end of the clearance and guide it goal wards only to be denied by Tearle who remarkably ran 80 yards to slide in and knock the ball off the line.

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