Hinckley AFC 3-0 Houghton Rangers

Hinckley AFC 3-0 Houghton Rangers

Hinckley AFC returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Houghton Rangers in the First Round of the Jelson Homes Senior Cup.

A first half penalty from JJ Melligan, along with second half strikes from Mark Bellingham and debutant Ryan Taylor ensured that Hinckley comfortably progressed to the next round.

Hinckley could have won by a greater margin, but Bellingham, a constant threat, had a hattrick of goals disallowed either side of half time.

Hinckley started well, and nearly took the lead eight minutes in. Good work down the right from James Bennett-Tindall fed Bellingham, whose low cross just evaded the outstretched leg of Luke Richards.

Shortly after, Hinckley’s luck of recent weeks was compounded when, after pinball in the box, Melligan’s goalbound effort struck Bellingham on the line, and a relieved Houghton defence cleared.

The visitors then had their best spell of the game midway through the first half, both chances falling to the lively Matt Baird up front.

First, he outpaced Ray Facey to get in behind the Hinckley defence, but he shot wide with just ‘keeper Sam Arnold to beat, before Arnold prevented the same player’s far post header soon after.

But Hinckley then began to assert their dominance on the game, and after Bellingham shot straight at Kane Warman, the deadlock was broken after 35 minutes. Melligan’s run into the box was halted abruptly, and the same player dusted himself down to send Warman the wrong way from the spot.

Warman was called upon again when Richards struck goalwards from the edge of the box, before Nathan Walker’s strike from the corner of the box bounced off the upright, and Bennett-Tindall couldn’t connect cleanly with the rebound.

The opening stages of the second half were quiet, but the game livened up again with the introduction of Dominic Oliver just after the hour mark.

The midfielder’s impact was immediate, as he curled goalwards from the edge of the box, only to see Warman parry behind. From the resulting corner, Bellingham had the ball in the net, only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised.

Bellingham then scored one that did count, latching on to Asa Wright’s through ball and slamming home with only the ‘keeper to beat.

Hinckley then added a third to seal the win with five minutes remaining. Oliver’s superb vision picked out fellow substitute Taylor, who finished well under pressure from two defenders.

Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Mitchell Tomlinson, Ray Facey (Isaac Cooper 50), Dominic Smith, John Clapp, Asa Wright, JJ Melligan (Dominic Oliver 62), Nathan Walker, Mark Bellingham, James Bennett-Tindall, Luke Richards (Ryan Taylor 75).

Goals: JJ Melligan (35 pen), Mark Bellingham (77), Ryan Taylor (85).

Houghton: Kane Warman, Ash Warburton, Lee McLeod, Karl Shipley, James Moore, Francis Lynch, Jack Simpson, Rob Melling, Mark Foster, Matt Baird, Hary Almond. Substitutes: Mark Stone, James Munroe