Lichfield City 0-4 Hinckley AFC
Hinckley AFC produced an outstanding away performance to move into the top four of the Midland League First Division with a comprehensive 4-0 win at Lichfield City.
Carl Abbott’s side barely put a foot wrong all evening, and had chances even before Ryan Seal’s penalty gave them a first half lead.
Javia Roberts doubled Hinckley’s advantage midway through the second half, before Isaac Cooper and another penalty from Seal added gloss to the scoreline late on.
Lichfield weren’t without their chances, but they were unable to break down a Hinckley defence that was led superbly by Ryan Paddock in just his second game for the club.
Abbott made two changes to the side that beat Heather St John’s just two days ago. Lee Thomas returned at left back, with Cooper dropping back down to the substitutes’ bench, while Jean Kalenda replaced Darious Darkin in midfield.
Hinckley settled quickly into the game, and after Dave Yonwin headed comfortably wide for the hosts five minutes in, it was the visitors who had a sustained spell of pressure.
From a right wing corner, Mitchell Tomlinson’s deft lob hit the bar, before Roberts’ shot was deflected and spilled by home ‘keeper Sheridan Martinez, who gathered at the second attempt.
Then, Philip McKerdy’s superb recovering challenge denied Seal, who looked to be through on goal until the right back slid in to prevent a shot.
On the quarter hour mark, Hinckley should have taken the lead. Lee Butler’s corner was deflected into the path of Sean Williams six yards out, but the winger couldn’t keep his header down and Martinez was untroubled.
At the other end, Tony Clarke couldn’t get enough power behind his header to trouble Tom Cross as Lichfield tried to threaten on the counter.
But Hinckley retained their dominance, and were thwarted by the woodwork for the second time on nineteen minutes when Seal headed Sam Agar’s cross onto the post.
They only had to wait two more minutes for the opening goal. Agar’s pass to the right wing picked out Williams, who beat left back Joe Haines with ease before being felled by Tyron Smith’s high challenge in the box. Seal stepped up and duly sent Martinez the wrong way from twelve yards.
That seemed to wake Lichfield up, who started to apply some pressure on the Hinckley defence for the first time. Yonwin’s free kick was deflected to give Cross a comfortable save, before Thomas flung himself in front of Martin Crawford’s shot after a loose ball fell to him in the box.
Then, Gary Birch’s goalbound header hit his own player as Lichfield looked to restore parity before half time.
Shortly before the interval, Hinckley had the final chance of the half when Williams twisted his way past McKerdy but sliced his shot wide of the near post.
The start of the second half saw Lichfield have marginally the better of the play, but Cross was rarely tested into anything other than routine work, such as saving Birch’s free kick on 49 minutes, as the back four in front of him regularly nullified threats.
Two minutes later, Tomlinson denied Yonwin with a fine block after Butler’s stray pass put Hinckley in trouble, before Clarke’s effort on the angle was dealt with by the Hinckley stopper.
For the second time on the night, Tomlinson then came close to scoring as his deflected cross-shot was cleared off the line.
The one time Cross was really tested came 65 minutes in, when Crawford’s shot from the edge of the box forced a fine reaction save from the ‘keeper. But Hinckley couldn’t fully clear, and Thomas was on hand again to prevent Yonwin’s effort finding the back of the net.
Hinckley were always a threat on the counter, and nearly doubled their lead just a minute later as Agar couldn’t direct Richards’ powerful cross on target.
Just two minutes later, though, and the lead was doubled. Agar’s good hold up play brought in Seal, who spread the play to Richards on the left. Richards took on his man, and drilled a low cross to the near post where Roberts converted the chance.
That was the spark for Hinckley to dominate again: Agar lobbed inches wide as AFC looked to put the game beyond doubt, but he looked to have pulled a hamstring with sixteen minutes remaining.
Hinckley had used all three substitutes, so Agar played on and was nearly rewarded when he glanced Butler’s delivery narrowly wide.
The stricken forward was involved again in Hinckley’s third goal with three minutes to go. His hold up play brought in strike partner Kieran Miller, and the debutant fed fellow substitute Cooper to race past Haines and coolly slot home to put the game beyond doubt.
With the three points secured Agar left the field, but his absence didn’t appear to hinder Hinckley. Cross pushed Reece Chambers’ 25 yard effort over the bar, and Birch headed over from the resulting corner as Hinckley didn’t give Lichfield a sniff.
Hinckley added the icing to the cake five minutes into stoppage time. McKerdy was harshly adjudged to have fouled Seal, who dusted himself down and found the back of the net for the second time of the night.
They could even have added a fifth late on, but Cooper strayed offside when Butler fed him through on goal.
Nevertheless, it was a complete away performance that moves Hinckley into the top four for the first time this season, and they will be intent on extending their recent good run against table toppers Bromsgrove Sporting next Tuesday.
Lichfield: Sheridan Martinez, Philip McKerdy, Joe Haines, Andre Francis (Reece Chambers 58), Richard Robinson, Tyron Smith (Jake Allen 66), Michael Taylor (Trea Bertie 75), Martin Crawford, Tony Clarke, Gary Birch, Dave Yonwin. Subs not used: Fabian Facey, Connor McCarthy
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Marcus Jackson, Lee Thomas, Mitchell Tomlinson, Ryan Paddock, Lee Butler, Sean Williams (Luke Richards 53), Jean Kalenda (Kieran Miller 68), Sam Agar, Ryan Seal, Javia Roberts (Isaac Cooper 68). Sub not used: Mike Harvey
Goals: Ryan Seal (22 pen, 95 pen), Javia Roberts (67), Isaac Cooper (87)