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|Saturday 21 August 2004||Go Travel Kent League||Richard Giles reports from Erith Sports Stadium|
|Erith Town||1||Fagan 53|
|Hythe Town||2||Pollard 37, Godden 83|
Hythe made to work hard for victory
Hythe Town went top of the Kent League on Saturday with a third win in succession away to an always tough to beat Erith Town side.
Manager Paul Fisk has always stressed that any improvement on last seasons top six finish would be a huge achievement.
But even he can't fail to be pleased with the fact that his side have notched up nine points and seven goals, all without first choice duo Ian Hayes and Gavin Ransley, and without even playing their best football.
Hythe now look forward to a break from league action when they entertain Littlehampton Town at Reachfields this Saturday (3pm.) in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.
One of the main reasons Hythe have hit the ground running, is because Mark Pollard and Roy Godden have carried on right where they left off last season with three goals a piece.
And it was Pollard who started off the game by winning a succession of headers in the opening stages of this game putting the home side under immediate pressure.
However, it wasn't going to be as easy as that, and Erith's box to box passing was as ever, impressive.
The first clear chance of the game fell to Roy Godden on 10 minutes, with a low shot giving an early test to Erith keeper Chris Arnold.
Moments later Mike Yianni skinned his man down the right-hand side of the box before entering the area to fire a low drive into the arms of Arnold.
Yianni is beginning to run into top form, and is clearly enjoying the fact that his management are allowing him to play in his preferred position in the 'hole' behind Pollard and Godden.
This has effectively given Hythe a 4-3-1-2 formation, which has probably been the main contributor to the goals flowing so freely.
On 17 minutes Arnold hit his third poor goal kick in quick succession and Pollard almost punished him with a fierce 30 yard shot that the keeper just recovered.
Dan Fisk would waste a good chance moments later after more good work down the right giving Fisk the chance to shoot from the edge of the box.
As the game moved towards the half-hour Hythe produced some of their best passing of the game down the right-wing with Fisk, Clifford, and Pollard, working a chance for Clifford to whip in a cross that Jason Brazier headed just wide at the back-post.
Yianni should of given Hythe the lead a few minutes later, shooting into the side-netting after bursting into the box.
Hythe would take the lead on 33 minutes, but not before a scare as Glen McTaggert fired just over sneaking round the back of an overstreched Hythe.
The goal was the move of the half with Mike Yianni leading a counter-attack through the middle before hitting a delayed pass to Godden streaking away down the left, his pin-point cross being met by Pollard on the penalty spot with a thunderous header into the roof of the net.
Erith Captain Paul Springett picked up a booking for a foul on Yianni, before useful centre-back Matt Fagan wasted a good chance to equalise mis-hitting a close range effort that Day easily dealt with.
Hythe knew there would be work to do in the second half as Nick Day was tested several times from outside the box towards the end of the first period.
Hythe continued in an attacking vein after the restart with Yianni producing a great run in from the left on the edge of the box before cutting back onto his right foot and firing a goal-bound shot towards the top-left corner that Arnold tipped over with the save of the game.
And Hythe missed their second chance to take a commanding lead on 51 minutes when Pollard hit wide on the volley after Scott Thomas sent him clear on the counter.
Erith were back on level terms on 52 minutes when Fagan popped up in Hythe's box this time to clinical effect, smashing home a low right-handed cross at close range, that seemed to run through numerous players legs en-route to the dangerous centre-back.
Hythe struggled to keep hold of the game during a nervy 20 minute passage of play that included bookings for Dan Fisk and Glen McTaggert, and Day making a stunning one on save at the feet of Captain Springett who as a result left the pitch injured with a nasty gash, although the injury was purely accidental.
Hythe finally put their nerves behind them or more specifically Godden and Pollard did on 83 minutes when Pollard won a fierce block tackle before riding two more challenges on his way into the Erith box, before having the awareness to pick out Godden at the back-post who finished with ease at close range.
The scoreline would of almost flattered Hythe, when Pollard again was strong in the tackle to release Godden one on one, but his fierce shot was well stopped by Arnold.
Darren Walmsley replaced Roy Godden in the closing minutes, as Hythe completed a highly successful first fortnight of the season.