Hinckley AFC 3-2 Leicester Road
Hinckley AFC completed a remarkable second half comeback as they overturned a two goal deficit to beat Leicester Road 3-2 at St John’s Park.
In a perfect example of the cliched ‘game of two halves’, Leicester Road had much the better of the opening 45 minutes and deservedly led at the break through Tom McGlinchey and James Hicks.
But a bullish second half display from Hinckley saw them dominate their visitors from the restart, and after Will Highland was sent off AFC capitalised as Luke Richards and Sean Williams brought Hinckley level.
And the winner came in stoppage time as Richards gave the vast majority of the 290 strong crowd a jubilant journey back down eleven miles of the A447.
Abbott named the same side that started Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Littleton, but his team started slowly and Leicester Road were sharper on the ball early on.
That said, Hinckley almost took the lead when goalkeeper Highland dropped Williams’ right wing cross, but grabbed the ball at the second attempt just before the ball crossed the line.
Just a minute later, Leicester Road took the lead. Tom Cross’ poor kick out fell the visitors’ way, and McGlinchey capitalised as he twisted past the Hinckley defence and found the bottom corner.
Hinckley’s first real chance came when Marco Adaggio’s good touch allowed him the room for a shot, but Highland beat his effort away.
Then the game started to open up, both sides having chances to find the back of the net. After Cross made up for his earlier error by denying Hicks in a one on one, at the other end Adaggio’s back heel hit Highland from point blank range.
Throughout the half, Hicks and Amarvir Sandhu caused Hinckley’s back line problems and on the half hour Cross had to make another good save to prevent Hicks doubling the score.
Joe Lyne was the next to see his effort saved by Cross, but the former AFC Rushden and Diamonds keeper was powerless to prevent Leicester Road doubling their lead in first half stoppage time. Alex Penny missed his header, and Hicks made him pay as he cut inside and curled a shot into the far corner.
After the break, Hinckley immediately looked sharper and moved the ball quicker, though Penny had to make a superb last ditch challenge to deny Lyne the chance to shoot.
But after that it was all one way traffic towards the Leicester Road goal. Richards shot straight at Highland after Williams’ fantastic cross, before AFC had strong penalty shouts turned down when Williams’ delivery appeared to strike Jack Harrison’s arm.
The introductions of JJ Melligan and Darious Darkin in the middle of the park enhanced Hinckley’s dominance, and on 64 minutes Highland’s moment of madness gave Hinckley all the momentum. Williams beat Highland to a ball over the top, but the ‘keeper clattered into him and brought him down.
Highland was dismissed, and after it took sub keeper Ricky Blewitt almost five minutes to come on and face the penalty, he didn’t even have to touch the ball as Adaggio blazed the spot kick over the bar.
Hinckley had to wait just two further minutes to give themselves hope. Another magnificent delivery from Williams evaded everyone but Richards at the far post, who drilled low beyond Blewitt.
Adaggio should have levelled affairs when the ball fell to him after Blewitt was beaten in the air, but again he couldn’t keep the ball down.
Then, Richards’ low cross-shot ran right across the face of goal, and only needed a touch to be diverted goalwards. But the touch wasn’t forthcoming and the chance was gone.
On 80 minutes, Hinckley levelled. Space opened up as the influential Williams cut inside, and he took advantage by finding the bottom corner via the inside of the post.
At this stage there was only going to be one winner, and after Melligan’s glancing header hit the outside of the post, the goal came four minutes into stoppage time.
Penny received the ball on the overlap, and crossed to the far post. There, Richards rose high above his man and powered a downward header home to send the majority of the crowd into delirium.
After that, only Jake Holt’s free kick came anywhere near to threatening Cross’ goal, and Hinckley held on for the win that ends Leicester Road’s seven match winning streak and sparked jubilant scenes at full time.
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Mitchell Tomlinson (JJ Melligan 57), Rico Taylor (Lee Thomas 69), Alex Penny, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker (Darious Darkin 61), Sean Williams, Marcus Jackson, Ryan Seal, Marco Adaggio, Luke Richards. Subs not used: Oli Basham, Ray Facey.
Goals: Luke Richards (69, 90+4), Sean Williams (80).
Leicester Road: Will Highland, Greg Downes, Jack Harrison (Matt Stenson 90+5), Jake Holt, Joe Cobb, Josh Smith, Sam Munton (Ricky Blewitt 67), Joe Lyne, James Hicks, Tom McGlinchey, Amarvir Sandhu. Subs not used: Connor McEnroe, Andy Farren.
Goals: Tom McGlinchey (12), James Hicks (45+1)