"Bucks take on high-flying Canaries"
Match Date : November 18th, 2023 3:00 pm
Competition : Southern League Central
Ground : New Bucks Head
Kick Off : 15:00
3rd plays 4th this weekend, when the Bucks will host the high-flying Canaries of Hitchin Town.
Hitchin were one of three clubs that finished on 59 points last season, ending up in 12th spot. That was a marked improvement on other recent campaigns – the Canaries recording a 17th-place and 18th-place finish in the two previous full seasons. That said, the Hertfordshire club are no strangers to the promotion picture, having made the Southern League Premier Division play-offs in both 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Mark Burke is the man who has led the club through all of the aforementioned campaigns, having taken the reins at Top Field at the start of the 2014/15 season. Burke is very much Mr Hitchin, first joining the club in 1985. He went on to make 732 appearances for the Canaries – the second most in the club’s history – and skippered the side to two promotions. Now in the Hitchin dugout, Burke is looking to repeat that trick but this time as manager. Currently in 3rd on 29 points, Town are one point and one place above the Bucks, so both sides will be looking to land a psychological blow with a win this weekend.
The Canaries actually made a fairly average start to the campaign, winning three and losing three of their opening six games. Since then, however, Burke’s sides have averaged two points per game in the league as they’ve charged up the table and into the playoff places. Hitchin have lost two of their last five though, including a 2-1 defeat at home to Stamford last time out.
Burke’s squad remains much the same as last year, and it’s one of the Canaries’ younger members who has really shone this season. The 19-year-old attacker has 12 goals and five assists to his name so far this season. But Wilkinson may have to fend off keeper Charlie Horlock for the golden boot – the Canaries’ captain recently scored a freak goal from inside his own area against Halesowen.
The Bucks are unbeaten in six, winning five of those matches, including all of the last three at the New Bucks Head. What’s more, the Bucks have kept back-to-back clean sheets on home soil, meaning that Kevin Wilkin’s men have shut out the opposition in five out of eight home league games this season. And if another defensively solid display is forthcoming this Saturday, it could help the Bucks to leapfrog Hitchin to climb up to 3rd.