Hinckley AFC 2-2 Heather St John’s
A depleted Hinckley AFC maintained their unbeaten run despite a lacklustre performance with a 2-2 draw against landlords Heather St John’s in front of a bumper Bank Holiday Monday crowd of 321.
Missing several players, Hinckley were only able to name three substitutes and never found their best, and the tempo of the game coupled with the warm sunshine gave a strong end of season feel.
Just ten minutes had passed when Ross Clarke’s long range strike gave Hinckley the lead, but Heather pegged them back on the half hour through Kiam Gladins.
Luke Richards gave Hinckley the lead for a second time with twenty minutes to go, but once again Heather equalised as Jacob Snape capitalised on slack defending to earn the ‘visitors’ a share of the spoils.
Carl Abbott made five changes to the Hinckley side that drew with Highgate United on Saturday, many of them enforced, as Jack Hartopp, Jordan Rushton, Oli Basham, Richards and Matt Gardner all came into the starting line up.
And just two minutes had passed when Richards was set free down the left but could only drag his shot narrowly wide of Scott Handley’s far post.
And after starting in the ascendancy, Hinckley took the lead after ten minutes when Clarke found space 25 yards out and picked out the top corner with a fine strike that gave Handley no chance.
Heather’s first sight of goal came midway through the half, when Snape, their main goal threat throughout the afternoon, found himself one on one with Hartopp but was denied by the former Alvis stopper.
Hartopp then made a good reaction save with his legs to deny Snape and preserve his side’s lead, but it didn’t last as the resulting corner was headed in by Gladins at the far post.
Clarke could have restored AFC’s lead shortly after, but headed straight at Handley when well placed.
The second half started with Heather looking the more likely to grab the game’s third goal, with Kyle Jaynes blazing over the bar after beating Rushton and Dan Gordon striking the base of the post as AFC struggled for inspiration.
The inspiration, though, arrived a minute later through captain Richards, whose solo run from the halfway line ended with him slotting the ball under Handley to restore Hinckley’s advantage.
Again, though, Hinckley couldn’t hold on, and were made to pay for sloppy defending when they failed to deal with Thomas Muldoon’s delivery and Snape tapped home.
That summed up a frustrating afternoon for Hinckley, who miss the opportunity to strengthen their claims for a top four place despite extending their unbeaten run to 26.
Hinckley: Jack Hartopp, Danny Kavanagh, Isaac Cooper, Jordan Rushton, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker, Oli Basham, Ross Clarke, Matt Gardner, Marco Adaggio (Yoann Tsamas 50), Luke Richards. Subs not used: Sam Arnold, Mitchell Tomlinson.
Goals: Ross Clarke (10), Luke Richards (69).
Heather: Scott Handley, Thomas Muldoon, Dan Gordon, Dan Rodgers, Adam Bilic, Dan Wain, Ryan Caputo, Joshua Ruff, Jacob Snape, Kyle Jaynes (Lewis Gough 64), Kiam Gladins (Grant Ryder 62). Subs not used: Kiel Mullin, Luke Wilson, Stephen Canning.
Goals: Kiam Gladins (29), Jacob Snape (79).