Hinckley AFC 4-3 Leicester Road (AET)

Hinckley AFC 4-3 Leicester Road (AET)

A depleted, ten man Hinckley AFC produced a remarkable performance to progress to the Semi Finals of the Jelson Homes Senior Cup by beating Leicester Road 4-3 after extra time.

Missing as many as eight players due to injury and unavailability, Carl Abbott was only able to name three substitutes, one of whom was a half fit Mitchell Tomlinson, but his side raced into a two goal first half lead through Luke Richards’ brace.

Tom McGlinchey and Matt Stenson pulled the visitors level again, and it was Leicester Road who took the momentum going in to extra time after Hinckley’s Rico Taylor was sent off.

Sam Munton gave Leicester Road the lead for the first time in the first period of extra time, but it didn’t last as goalkeeper-come-winger Sam Arnold’s header and Ryan Seal’s penalty gave AFC another dramatic win.

Abbott made seven changes, many of them enforced, to the Hinckley side that were beaten by Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday. Marcus Jackson, Lee Thomas, Seal and Richards were the only four to remain.

But despite all the changes, it was AFC who looked the more settled early on, and after Will Highland could only spill Taylor’s early effort, they took the lead sixteen minutes in. Thomas made good ground down the left, and produced a peach of a cross for Richards to head home at the far post.

Hinckley continued to have the better of the first 45 minutes, and deservedly doubled their lead before the interval. Richards was sent through on goal by Seal, and kept his cool to side foot beyond Highland.

It was only then that Leicester Road started to cause AFC problems – Munton’s dipping half volley was the closest they came before the interval as his effort on the angle went narrowly wide.

The second half, though, saw the visitors dominate and after Amarvir Sandhu’s early chance was well saved by Arnold (still in goal at this point), they halved the deficit on 53 minutes when McGlinchey looped an effort home off the far post.

And the tie was all level again four minutes later. A neat passing move saw Hinckley’s defence cut open too easily, and Stenson slotted home with AFC flat footed.

Then, with Richards unable to continue through injury, substitute goalkeeper Tom Cross replaced him up front. In fact, the former Southam man nearly set up a goal, but after his lay off Seal’s effort was blocked by Highland’s legs.

Leicester Road were now in the ascendancy, and they gained a numerical advantage with six minutes to go in normal time when Taylor was sent off for a second booking.

It was Hinckley, though, who responded better and could have wrapped the game up in stoppage time. Seal’s low goalbound shot was blocked, and the ball fell to Cross, but he couldn’t direct the ball home and the game went to extra time.

The additional 30 minutes saw Arnold and Cross switch roles, and just seven of them had been played when Munton side footed beyond Cross to give his side the lead.

But straight from the re-start, Hinckley won themselves a free kick and Arnold marked his 50th appearance for the club by restoring parity with his first AFC goal: a glancing header into the far corner.

The end to end nature of the game continued approaching the midway point of extra time, and Cross had to be at his best to pull off a full length save and prevent the visitors taking the lead again, before Arnold’s run down the right ended with him shooting wide.

It looked as though penalties would have to separate the two sides, but only one was necessary – and it came in the 118th minute after a handball in the Leicester Road box. Seal stepped up and duly dispatched the spot kick as Hinckley snatched another dramatic late victory and reached the Semi Finals for the second consecutive year.

Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Marcus Jackson, Lee Thomas, Sam Brooks, Oli Basham, Darious Darkin, Elikem Amenku (Trovarn Thompson 45), Jason Wood, Ryan Seal, Luke Richards (Tom Cross 66), Rico Taylor. Sub not used: Mitchell Tomlinson

Goals: Luke Richards (16, 34), Sam Arnold (98), Ryan Seal (118 pen)

Leicester Road: Will Highland, Joe Lyne, Connor McEnroe, Greg Downes, James Awodiya, Josh Smith, Sam Munton, Lynas King (Jack Harrison 94), Matt Stenson (Andy Farren 82), Tom McGlinchey, Amarvir Sandhu (James Hicks 108). Sub not used: Ricky Blewitt

Goals: Tom McGlinchey (53), Matt Stenson (57), Sam Munton (97)