Hinckley AFC 0-3 Highgate United
Hinckley AFC’s 3-0 defeat to Highgate United was their fifth in six games, but after an encouraging first half display they will be disappointed to come away with nothing.
The sides were level at 0-0 going into the interval, but second half goals from Lei Brown, Michael Batchelor and Martin Crawford saw the visitors run away with all three points.
Matt Martin replaced Sam Arnold in goal for his first competitive start after recovering from the injury he suffered in pre-season. New boys John Cordy and Jordan Nadat came in to the side, and Hinckley were forced into a late change when John Clapp had to be replaced by Nathan Jackson shortly before kick off.
This meant that Hinckley were forced to play with Cordy and Avun Jephcott, two central midfielders by trade, in the middle of the back four.
Hinckley started brightly, and just two minutes had passed when Jackson, on debut, fired over the bar.
Fellow debutant Nadat was looking threatening down the right, and the former Coalville forward set up Luke Richards, who couldn’t connect to Nadat’s pass.
It was an end-to-end start, in which Highgate also had their fair share of chances. Ricardo Richards dragged a shot wide from just inside the box, before Martin made a good save from Brown when one on one.
Cordy prevented Highgate taking the lead with an excellent recovering tackle after Martin was beaten to the ball, before the Hinckley ‘keeper made a good save at his near post. From the resulting corner, Hinckley countered, and Nadat ran the length of the pitch beforehis shot was blocked.
Shortly before half time, Martin was called into action again, getting a strong left hand to Ricardo Richards’ shot following the forward’s excellent turn.
Six minutes of the second half had passed when Highgate took the lead. Cameron Knight’s cross to the far post was met by Brown, whose precise header across goal gave Martin no chance.
Shortly afterwards, Luke Richards forced his way through the Highgate defence, but visiting stopper Conor McCarthy came out on top in that particular battle as Hinckley searched for an equaliser.
Highgate then doubled their lead midway through the second half, when Batchelor rose highest to meet Connor Mooney’s corner. The ball was adjudged to have crossed the line despite Nathan Walker’s best efforts.
McCarthy made a good save from Luke Richards when the Hinckley striker found his way through on goal, before the same player could only shoot into the side netting after rounding the visiting ‘keeper.
Hinckley’s stand-in skipper then saw his snap shot fly narrowly over the bar, before Highgate sealed their win with almost the last kick of the game.
Substitutes Brett Fellows and Alondo Lewis combined down the left to present Crawford with a chance, which was comfortably buried.
Hinckley: Matt Martin, Bekir Halil (Mitch Tomlinson 78), Isaac Cooper, Nathan Walker, Avun Jephcott, Nathan Jackson, John Cordy, Jordan Nadat, Luke Richards, Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell, James Bennett-Tindall (Mark Bellingham 75). Subs not used: Asa Wright, Dominic Oliver, JJ Melligan.
Highgate: Conor McCarthy, Cameron Knight, Nathan Pulisciano, Michael Batchelor, Karl King, Trevor Edwards, Nathan Edgington (Luke Hinson 22), Martin Crawford, Ricardo Richards (Alondo Lewis 86), Connor Mooney, Lei Brown (Brett Fellows 89). Subs not used: Brad Frain, Gary Birch.
Goals: Lei Brown (51), Michael Batchelor (67), Martin Crawford (90+3)