Slough came into the game with maximum points from their first two games, knowing that this game would provide one of their sternest tests of the season. For Carl Williams’ Hitchin, the game represented a chance to gain a measure of revenge over the Rebels for the playoff semi-final defeat in April, and early bragging rights with both sides considered to be promotion contenders by many.
In the early exchanges, Hitchin failed to trouble Jamie Jackson's goal with long shots, whilst the closest Slough came was a Sippetts effort which curled wide of the post from 20 yards.
Slightly against the run of play, Slough took the lead with twelve minutes played. Paul Coyne produced a splendid cross from the right flank, which Steve Sinclair, perhaps the shortest player on the pitch, got his head to and looped the ball beyond Martin Bennett and into the bottom corner.
One of Hitchin's main threats was the pace on the break of Tom Mustapha, and on one such attack down the left, Mustapha cut inside and hammered a shot at the top corner, which Jackson punched over comfortably.
On 28 minutes came the pivotal moment of the match, as the visitors were reduced to 10 men. Another quick passive move saw Mustapha running clear through on goal, and Chris Seeby was forced into hauling the speedy attacker to the turf.
The resulting red card was inevitable and changed the complexion of the game as Hitchin responded well, peppering Jackson’s goal with efforts from distance. The most notable of these was from Richard Howell, but Jackson was equal to the effort, stretching to turn the ball around the post.
Just a minute before half time, Hitchin made their numerical advantage count with an equalising goal. The tricky Zak Burke cut inside from his position on the left and drilled a low shot past Jackson’s right hand and just inside the post, ensuring that the Canaries would have the upper hand going into the second half.
Indeed, Hitchin took the lead just four minutes into the second half. A deep cross from Tom Pepper was headed back by Richard Howell and Tom Mustapha rolled the ball over the line after Jamie Arlick had turned it goalwards.
Arlick, so prolific for the Canaries last season, scored a third in the 59th minute and it looked as if Hitchin might run away with the game and put the result beyond all doubt. Howell beat Murphy on the right and sent in a low cross from the by-line which Arlick turned into the net from close range.
The Rebels then pulled a goal back four minutes later, with Simon Martin getting his head to Stuart Swift's free kick delivery and powering the ball through Bennett's hands and into the back of the net.
Slough refused to sit back and limit the damage, and Sinclair showed that there was still plenty in the tank with a long mazy run at the heart of the home defence, but he shot over the bar.
With Slough manager Steve Bateman throwing on a third striker in the form of Craig O'Connor for defender Yeboah, the Rebels committed numbers forward in search of an equaliser, and both sides could have added more goals in the closing stages. Arlick struck a post from the edge of the box and Simon Martin sent a free header wide from a corner.
Slough were left to wonder what might have been had they had a full complement of players on the pitch for the full match, but both sides gave every indication that they may well at least match last season's efforts in this early entertaining encounter
Hitchin Town Line up
Bennett, Fontenelle, Gilbert, Wordsworth, Pepper, Howell, C. Donnelly, Lee (George), Burke, Arlick, Mustapha. Subs not used: Williams, Dixon, Harrison, Lamacroft.