Hinckley AFC 8-2 Stafford Town
Hinckley AFC gave their fans the perfect Christmas present, putting Stafford Town to the sword in a comprehensive 8-2 victory.
Four goal Matt Gardner will take the headlines: he scored his fifteenth league goal for the club in his haul, but it was Marco Adaggio and Justin Nisbett who gave AFC an early lead.
Morgan Hurley pulled one back for the visitors, but Gardner scored two before the interval and two after it to put the game to bed: this after Michael Meszaros had made it 4-2 in the first minute of the second period.
Michael Healy and Isaac Cooper both scored their first league goals for the club late on to add the icing to a perfectly baked Christmas cake.
Hinckley made four changes to the side that beat Atherstone Town last week. Jack Hartopp made his first league appearance for the club, replacing Sam Arnold in goal, while Cooper, Nisbett and Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell all returned.
Just seven minutes had passed when Hinckley took the lead. Nisbett’s run down the right channel saw him get to the byline, and his cross was badly dealt with by the Stafford defence, allowing Adaggio to side-foot home.
Two minutes later, and the same combination had doubled Hinckley’s lead. Adaggio’s flick on found Nisbett, who cut inside and buried a low shot into the bottom corner.
Stafford almost replied immediately, but Hartopp tipped wide from Ishmale Reid’s speculative 30 yard effort. From the resulting corner, the former Alvis ‘keeper reacted well to prevent Adam Cunningham’s near post flick on finding the net.
Hinckley then hit the woodwork twice in a matter of minutes; firstly through Clarke-O’Connell’s free kick which struck the base of the post, then Gardner’s free kick struck the crossbar.
On the half hour, Stafford were allowed a route back into the game when Dom Smith’s slip allowed Hurley to finish coolly one on one.
But Hinckley restored their two goal lead shortly afterwards, when Cooper’s diagonal ball was drilled home by Gardner at the far post.
In first half stoppage time, Gardner made it four, latching onto Adaggio’s clever reverse pass and chipping over the advancing John Marlborough.
In the first minute after the interval, Stafford pulled another goal back when Meszaros’ long fierce long range strike found the back of the net, despite Hartopp’s hand.
Five minutes later, Gardner bagged his second Hinckley hattrick with a spectacular overhead kick in a crowded area after Marlborough didn’t connect fully with a punch.
Then, the former Coalville striker continued his fine scoring run by adding his fourth with a diving header from Nisbett’s pinpoint cross.
Hinckley would move up to fourth with a win by seven clear goals, and Healy made this a distinct possibility when he curled home from twenty yards midway through the second half to make it 7-2.
Hinckley continued to put the Stafford defence under pressure, and they were rewarded with an eighth goal with three minutes remaining when Cooper headed home Mitchell Tomlinson’s cross.
Healy then hit the bar in stoppage time, crashing Tomlinson’s pull back inches too high, but Carl Abbott’s side won’t be bothered by that: they have won ten games from their last eleven and are now the top scorers in the Midland League First Division.
Hinckley: Jack Hartopp, Mitchell Tomlinson, Isaac Cooper, Dom Smith, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker (JJ Melligan 56), Justin Nisbett (Michael Healy 56), Ross Clarke, Matt Gardner (Rob Millington 66), Marco Adaggio, Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell. Subs not used: Sam Arnold, Jordan Rushton.
Goals: Marco Adaggio (7), Justin Nisbett (9), Matt Gardner (34, 45+1, 51, 55), Michael Healy (65), Isaac Cooper (87).
Stafford: John Marlborough, Michael Williams, Michael Meszaros (Seth Ellis 68), James Price, Grant Winwood, Darryll Johns, Ashley Phillips, Jud Ellis, Morgan Hurley, Adam Cunningham (Chris Alderson 74), Ishmale Reid. Subs not used: Ben Skelton, Ade Smith, Jamie Cartwright.
Goals: Morgan Hurley (31), Michael Meszaros (46)