Hinckley AFC 1-1 Nuneaton Griff
A game of two halves saw Hinckley AFC and Nuneaton Griff share a point apiece at St John’s Park on Boxing Day.
A bumper festive crowd of 256 saw both sides play better against the strong wind, with AFC having the better of the first half and taking twelfth minute lead through Greg Pearson.
But the high flying visitors responded well after the break, and Ryan Slinn’s close range effort bagged a share of the spoils for The Heartlanders as Carl Abbott’s side end 2015 with a draw.
Abbott made two changes to his Hinckley side that beat Stafford Town last week. Marcus Jackson’s absence meant that Chris Gray moved to right back with Luke Pinnock partnering Alex Morris in the centre, while Luke Richards replaced the suspended Rico Taylor.
There were also four potential league debutants on the substitutes’ bench in Sam Agar, Trovarn Thompson, Alando Lewis and Mason Hirst.
And it was the home side who started the brighter, having the first chance as early as the third minute when Marco Adaggio blazed over after a flowing move down the right.
It took just nine more minutes for Hinckley to take the lead. A ball over the top was sought after by both Richards and visiting ‘keeper Andy Needham. Needham’s clearance spilled to Pearson, who coolly lofted the ball over helpless ‘keeper to net his first Hinckley goal.
That seemed to wake Griff up, and the visitors had the better of the next ten minutes. Alex Naughton curled narrowly wide, before the same player’s left wing free kick was mis-hit at the far post, looping onto the upright before Pinnock cleared.
Tom Cross then had to be at his best to deny Luke Shorthouse’s header as Nuneaton sought the equaliser, while at the other end Needham’s outstretched leg prevented Ryan Seal from doubling the score.
After half time, Hinckley were unable to retain possession for any length of time, but though Griff saw plenty of the ball they were unable to test Cross: the former Southam goalkeeper was comfortable in denying Dave Barnett and Ben Ashby.
When Hinckley did force a good position, Pearson could only balloon over after waltzing past Ryan Millerchip’s challenge in an attempt to wrap up victory.
And AFC were punished three minutes from time, when substitute Slinn, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes, slammed home from close range.
The closest either side came to finding a winner was when Alando Lewis took too much time to find space from Lee Thomas’ left wing cross, and the two sides had to settle for a point each.
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Chris Gray, Lee Thomas, Luke Pinnock, Alex Morris, Darious Darkin, JJ Melligan, Ryan Seal, Greg Pearson (Alando Lewis 86), Marco Adaggio (Trovarn Thompson 86), Luke Richards (Mason Hirst 76). Subs not used: Oli Basham, Sam Agar.
Goal: Greg Pearson (12)
Nuneaton: Andy Needham, Darren Eggleton, Anton Astley (Ryan Slinn 81), Ashley Wilks, Ryan Millerchip, Mark Williams, Dave Barnett (Danny Harris 63), Kieron Brehon, Luke Shorthouse, Alex Naughton (Aden Moore 56), Ben Ashby. Subs not used: Charlie Reardon, George Woodward.
Goal: Ryan Slinn (87)