Long Eaton United 2-1 Hinckley AFC (AET)
Hinckley AFC’s FA Vase run is over for another season as they were beaten 2-1 after extra time by Long Eaton United at Grange Park on Saturday.
Despite a goalless first half, it was a thoroughly entertaining game in which both sides could and arguably should have scored more. Aaron Cole gave the home side the lead within a minute of the start of the second period, but Hinckley responded through Luke Richards.
Despite going down to ten men, Long Eaton held on for extra time and Brad Wells scored the decisive goal that sends the Derbyshire side through to the Second Round.
But Hinckley will be encouraged by their display, in which they were the better side for sustained spells of the game and caused their Midland League Premier Division hosts problems.
Carl Abbott made two enforced changes to the side that started last week’s debacle against Heath Hayes. Sam Arnold replaced the cup-tied Tom Cross in goal, while Marcus Jackson made his Hinckley debut instead of the suspended Marco Adaggio.
The home side looked the more comfortable on the ball early on, Hinckley unable to keep possession for long enough to cause problems, but the visitors grew into the half as it went on.
In fact, it was Hinckley who had the game’s first chance: Ryan Seal’s rasping drive striking the crossbar after a deflection.
Then, Seal could only shoot straight at home keeper Scott Low from Sean Williams’ cross.
Approaching the midway point of the first half, Hinckley were now dominant and Williams, who gave Kieran Anderson nightmares all half, saw his cross hit Jamie McKeever and break fortuitously back to Low.
On 23 minutes, Jean Kalenda’s error nearly let in Wells, but Arnold was alert to deny him.
Jackson nearly marked his Hinckley debut with a goal shortly after the half hour mark, but his 20 yard effort swerved not far wide.
Ten minutes before the interval, Long Eaton had their best chance of the half. Six yards out and unmarked, Paolo Piliero failed to connect properly with a left wing cross, the ball hitting him and bouncing for Hinckley to clear.
That was the first of several free headers that Long Eaton failed to capitalise on during the afternoon, but 28 seconds into the second half Cole was not to make the same mistake as his teammates, nodding home Wells’ cross from close range.
Hinckley now had their work cut out against one of the tightest defences in the league above, but the lively front four of Williams, Seal, Rico Taylor and Richards continued to create chances.
On 50 minutes, a flowing move involving Williams and Richards set up Nathan Walker. Walker couldn’t fashion the space for a shot, but set up Seal, only for the former Kirby Muxloe man to slice high and wide.
Seven minutes later, Hinckley were level. Walker’s magnificent through ball was latched onto by Richards, who rounded the onrushing Low and slotted home to the jubilation of the travelling support.
That seemed to spur Hinckley on even more, and Richards could have added a second but couldn’t get enough behind his attempted lob and Low saved.
Then, Richards turned provider as his right wing corner was met by Seal, whose header was cleared off the line.
Long Eaton would always offer a threat though, and for the next ten minutes it was the home side who had the chances. Wells, a thorn in Hinckley’s side throughout, saw his far post header tipped around the post by Arnold, before the same player headed a guilt-edged chance wide.
Grant Ryan was the next to spurn a free header, before he was dismissed on 77 minutes for picking up his second yellow card in the space of a minute for a foul on Walker.
For the remainder of the 90 minutes, Long Eaton set up with two banks and four and were difficult to break down. Hinckley’s only chance came in stoppage time, when Kristian Ramsey-Dickson’s long throw fell to Darious Darkin. In space in the box, the former Aston Villa youngster was hesitant and his goalbound prod was comfortably saved.
That sent the game into extra time as dictated by FA Vase rules, and six minutes into the additional half hour Long Eaton scored the decisive goal. There were strong suspicions of offside, but Ramsey-Dickson inexplicably let the ball bounce and Wells took full advantage, twisting past Alex Morris and scuffing a shot beyond Arnold.
After that, despite playing against ten men, Hinckley found it difficult to break down the hosts’ solid back four, shepherded by holding midfielder Ben Gowing. Their only chance came in the second period of extra time when Seal’s low shot was saved.
At the other end, Arnold did well to deny Wells his second of extra time, but that would have been even harsher on Hinckley, who can hold their heads high despite exiting the competition.
Long Eaton: Scott Low, Josh Raven, Kieran Anderson, Ben Gowing, Jamie McKeever, Shaun Rickford, Paolo Piliero, Jerome O’Connor (Tom Cooper-Richards 57), Brad Wells, Grant Ryan, Aaron Cole. Subs not used: Matt Savage, Blaine Hancock, Stuart Wearing, Dean Haynes.
Goals: Aaron Cole (46), Brad Wells (96)
Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Marcus Jackson, Alex Morris, Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, Jean Kalenda, Nathan Walker, Sean Williams, Darious Darkin, Ryan Seal, Luke Richards, Rico Taylor. Subs not used: Mitchell Tomlinson, Oli Basham.
Goal: Luke Richards (57)