Studley 2-5 Hinckley AFC
Hinckley AFC secured fourth place and their spot in next season’s FA Cup with a 5-2 victory in their final away game of the season at Studley.
A brace apiece from Luke Richards and Marco Adaggio, along with a second half strike from Justin Nisbett, ensured that Hinckley passed a century of league goals in what can only be thought of as an outstanding inaugural campaign.
The victory at Studley wasn’t all plain sailing, though: a brace from Anthony Miller cancelled out Richards’ double as the sides went in level at the break.
But Hinckley dominated the second half, taking firm control of the game and the three points to guarantee a top four finish for Carl Abbott’s side.
Abbott made five changes to the Hinckley side that shared the spoils with Heather St John’s on Easter Monday, with Mitchell Tomlinson, Dom Smith, JJ Melligan, Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell and Nisbett all coming back into the side.
The opening ten minutes passed with little goalmouth action, but Hinckley took the lead fourteen minutes in when Clarke-O’Connell’s fine cross was converted by the unmarked Richards at the far post.
The Clarke-O’Connell/Richards combination were prominent throughout the first half, and the duo combined again midway through it to double AFC’s lead. Another superb cross from the former landed at the feet of the latter, who dispatched from an acute angle.
Hinckley’s lead was cut on the half hour, though, when Miller pounced to catch the Hinckley defence off guard and slot past Jack Hartopp.
For all Hinckley’s possession in the first half, they couldn’t carve out the chances to extend their lead and they were punished on the stroke of half time. In fortuitous fashion, Miller bagged his second as a deep cross drifted inside the far post despite Hartopp scrambling to keep it out.
In the second half however, Hinckley did create the chances their possession merited, and Adaggio restored AFC’s lead two minutes into it as his powerful run ended with a scuffed shot trickling over the line.
Ten minutes later, Hinckley scored their hundredth league goal of the season. Good link up play between Richards and Nathan Walker set up Nisbett, whose neat control and finish brought up the century.
AFC then began to pile on the pressure, with Adaggio heading straight at the goalkeeper and substitute Ross Clarke driving narrowly wide.
Hinckley’s fifth goal came late on, when Melligan’s was glanced home at the near post by Adaggio.
When news filtered through of Uttoxeter Town’s defeat to Southam United, Hinckley’s place in next season’s FA Cup was guaranteed on another historic day for the club.
Studley: George Harris, Gary Joynes, Geovannie Shaw, George Tolley, Michael Murray, Junior Mangolo, Tom Langston, Scott Devlin, Junior Brown, Anthony Miller, Shane Brassington.
Goals: Anthony Miller (30, 45)
Hinckley: Jack Hartopp, Danny Kavanagh, Mitchell Tomlinson, Dom Smith, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker (Avun Jephcott 76), JJ Melligan, Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell, Justin Nisbett (Ross Clarke 59), Marco Adaggio, Luke Richards (Michael Healy 76). Subs not used: Oli Basham, Matt Gardner.
Goals: Luke Richards (14, 26), Marco Adaggio (47, 83), Justin Nisbett (56).