Heather St John’s 2-3 Hinckley AFC
Hinckley AFC came out on top in a hard fought Leicestershire derby with a 3-2 win over landlords Heather St John’s at St John’s Park.
In front of a good Bank Holiday crowd of 198, AFC had to come from behind after Eddie Wilson gave the Saints an eighteenth minute lead, but were level by half time thanks to Ryan Seal.
Debutant Ryan Paddock bundled home Hinckley’s second on the hour, but it was to be his last action as he was sent off in the melee that followed the goal celebrations.
Sam Agar secured all three points with a header seven minutes from time, and although Ryan Nesbitt pulled one back in stoppage time, Carl Abbott’s side held on for all three points.
Abbott made four changes to the side that beat Pershore Town two days ago. Darious Darkin and Lee Butler paired up in midfield, with Agar returning up front and Paddock making his debut at the back.
On his return to the side, Agar should have given Hinckley the lead with just 50 seconds on the clock. Isaac Cooper took a short corner, and crossed to the edge of the six yard box where Agar, in space, mistimed his header and the ball ran away from goal.
Hinckley had much the better of the opening stages but couldn’t fashion too many chances, and Heather took the lead against the run of play on the quarter hour mark. Ahkeem Rose found space on the left flank, and although Jonathan Ashfall couldn’t convert his cross, Wilson ghosted in at the far post to side foot beyond Tom Cross.
At the other end, Marcus Jackson’s magnificent set piece only needed a touch, but one wasn’t forthcoming and the ball ran right across the face of goal.
It took until four minutes before half time for Hinckley to level. Seal beat the offside trap to latch onto Mitchell Tomlinson’s lofted through ball, and he brought the ball under control before slotting through Ben Allsop’s legs to equalise.
Agar then glanced Cooper’s cross over the bar as the sides went in level at the break.
The forward continued to offer a goal threat in the second half, nearly capitalising on Harry Reece’s error, only to see Allsop save his drive from an acute angle.
At the other end, Cross had to be on hand to deny Nesbitt as Heather sought to take the lead for a second time.
But the game’s third goal was to be scored by Hinckley on the hour. Cooper’s free kick from the left was flicked on by Agar, and hit Paddock, whose effort was deflected before trickling over the line.
Paddock’s afternoon was to turn bittersweet immediately, though. Heather didn’t take kindly to Hinckley’s celebrations in front of their supporters, and a melee erupted. Referee Paul Hands singled out Paddock as the primary offender, sending him for an early bath before play had resumed.
The ten men of Hinckley would have been expecting to be put on the back foot, but the pressure from their landlords didn’t materialise and the closest they came to equalising was when Cooper had to clear inside the six yard box after Cross collided with Lennie Chaney.
In fact, it was Hinckley who offered the better goal threat and they doubled their lead as the game approached its conclusion. Cooper’s 25 yard free kick crashed off the crossbar, but from the resulting corner Greg Pearson flicked on at the near post, and Agar headed home at the far to make the final minutes more comfortable.
Heather did make it nervy in stoppage time after Nesbitt slammed home a pull back from the byline, but Hinckey held on to close the gap on fourth place to just one point ahead of the visit to fifth-placed Lichfield on Wednesday.
Heather: Ben Allsop, Conor Wright, Kyro Sharpe (Kyle Linford 62), Harry Reece, Lyndon Weller, Andrew Cahill, Ryan Nesbitt, Luke Pinnock, Ahkeem Rose (Lennie Chaney 72), Eddie Wilson, Jonathan Ashfall (Jack Jepson 82). Subs not used: Kyle Bishop, Rami Tekle.
Goals: Eddie Wilson (18), Ryan Nesbitt (91)
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Marcus Jackson, Isaac Cooper, Mitchell Tomlinson, Ryan Paddock, Lee Butler (JJ Melligan 66), Sean Williams (Jean Kalenda 73), Darious Darkin, Sam Agar, Ryan Seal, Javia Roberts (Greg Pearson 66). Subs not used: Lee Thomas, Mike Harvey
Goals: Ryan Seal (41), Ryan Paddock (60), Sam Agar (83)