BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke close out the 2016/17 league season with a home match at the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium against a side hoping to earn promotion in Hitchin Town. Hitchin have already mathematically secured a playoff place for the end of the season for the second year in a row and will be hoping to improve on last year where they were beaten in the semi finals by eventual winners Hungerford Town. Saturday’s visitors currently lie in fourth place, with 85 points from 45 games, five points clear of sixth place Banbury. Basingstoke, meanwhile, secured a top half finish with the 1-1 draw at Dorchester on Easter Monday and a victory at the weekend could see them finish the season in 11th place.
The previous match between the two sides took place at Hitchin’s Top Field in September and resulted in a 1-0 defeat for Basingstoke due to a late goal from Brett Donnelly as Basingstoke suffered a tough start to the season. It will be the first time we’ve hosted the Canaries in a league match for thirteen years, since a surprise 3-2 defeat in April 2004.
Basingstoke enter the game on a run of five matches unbeaten, with three wins and two draws. Hitchin, meanwhile, have failed to register a victory in their last five Southern League Premier matches, drawing four times against Leamington, Dorchester Town, Banbury United and Biggleswade Town while tasting defeat against champions Chippenham Town. Basingstoke will be looking to continue that run and end Hitchin’s hopes of a home tie in the semi finals of the playoffs.
Joe Gater will return to contention after serving the second and final match of his suspension from being sent off at Redditch while Mark Hastings is still out as he looks to regain fitness following a bout of illness.
BY NICK WILSON
HALF TIME: 1-0
FULL TIME: 1-1