The Arena is an impressive community-focused venue with a 3G pitch that the UK FF lads soon got used to playing on. It was the first time that they had played on an artificial pitch, but from the way they played you would never have guessed it.
The Hitchin Town XI were actually composed of a Luton Town Development side, which sounds strange until you realise that Hitchin Town work in partnership with Luton Town in order to help develop their next generation of players. If the truth be told, however, the lads that played in Hitchin Town's colours against UK FF were far from impressive. They were second best in everything - tackling, passing, creating chances and just could not beat Thatcham Town's Aaron Bufton in the UK FF goal. A commanding performance from Aaron who was one of three players that could easily have been Man of the Match.
The intention of the match was for new Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke to both assess how his young charges would fare, and also if Hitchin Town could benefit from adding players from UK FF. At the end of the game, the result and performance spoke volumes - a 3-0 win to the UK FF lads, and Luton Town's youngsters shocked at how easily they had been beaten.
UK FF lined up thus:
Aaron Bufton, Rachid Rouga, Jerome Kinsonga, Jarrell Gray, Kurtis Spencer, Amin Ibrahim, Axel Oxybel, Maxime Morice (MoM), Fabio Pocas, Antonio Diehadou, Daniel Toto King Bisgunu (Subs: Stuart Darbyshire, Joel Nana, Niko Williams, Paul Abu, Jonathan Tshishimbi and Pierson Honegan). Players in Italics made their debut for UK FF.
UK FF were well up for the challenge and set about their opponents from the off. Playing in a 3-4-3 formation, their passing was superb and, on the rare occasions Hitchin did manage to get forward, the brick-walls that are Rachid Rouga, Jerome Kinsonga and Jarrell Gray snuffed out any threat. Jarrell has recently joined Hayes & Yeading United and was being monitored by Michael Nelson who is a close friend of their new manager Phil Babb. Jerome was my personal MoM as he looked a class apart, winning headers and tackling cleanly and also getting a few testing shots in on goal. Hitchin took good note of him and Maxime who scored UK FF's second goal after Antoine Diehadou opened the scoring early on after a good through pass from Ibrahim. Former Arsenal, Leeds United and England player Chris Whyte was also in attendance and looked impressed with the UK FF players.
In the second half, substitute Stuart Darbyshire made it 3-0 after good work from the midfield and he cut inside his marker to fire home a great goal. Darbyshire is surely headed for the Football League, in the future, and looked professional and competent throughout his time on the pitch. There were also some good cameo performances from Niko Williams, Jonathan Tshishimbi and Pierson Honegan and Niko (formerly at Tottenham and Reading) looks to be a future Football League player if he carries on playing as well as he did.
The next stop for the UK FF lads will be at The Sharda Glass Community Stadium in Hayes on Saturday 6th July when they will play a mixed Hayes & Yeading and Reading Youth side.