Hinckley AFC moved into the top four in the Midland League Division One with a 2-1 win over Stafford Town at St John’s Park.
In a win that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested, Hinckley dominated for large spells but missed a host of chances alongside finding visiting ‘keeper Ryan Cheshire in inspired form.
Javia Roberts broke the deadlock early and Ryan Paddock doubled the lead late on, and although Matt Beedell’s stunner halved Stafford’s deficit in stoppage time, Hinckley held out for the win.
Carl Abbott made three changes to his Hinckley side that beat Cadbury Athletic at the weekend. Jordan Perks came in for his debut in defence, while Roberts and Darious Darkin returned.
In a quiet opening, it was Stafford who had the first chance with Haydn Whitcombe pulling off a fine low save from a six yard header.
And Hinckley took advantage of that by taking the lead shortly afterwards. Ryan Seal won the ball back in his own half and fed Roberts, who finished well at the near post to put his side ahead.
As Hinckley pressed for a second, Sam Agar controlled a fine diagonal ball from Paddock on his chest and cut inside, but couldn’t hit the target.
Then, Agar headed over and both ‘keepers made further saves to prevent goals as Cheshire denied Roberts from point blank range and Whitcombe pushed an effort onto the bar to preserve his side’s advantage going into the break.
Chances continued to flow at either end after the interval, and although Hinckley had more of them their visitors posed a threat when they came forward. Darkin thundered a 25 yard effort off the crossbar before, at the other end, Ryan Bradshaw’s effort was superbly cleared off the line by James Williams as both sides wondered how the game had only seen one goal.
Then, Seal scuffed an effort which beat Cheshire but rolled agonisingly onto the post and Williams called Cheshire into a fine save to keep the visitors’ deficit at just one.
At this point, Stafford would have been confident of pulling something out of the game by nicking one on the break but those hopes were dashed with 12 minutes to play. A well worked free kick saw Seal find Agar, whose cross found Paddock at the far post to convert a free header and allow Hinckley to breathe a sigh of relief.
Seal then squandered a chance to put the game out of sight by hitting the post for a second time, but Hinckley’s disappointment would have been that they couldn’t hold on to a second straight clean sheet.
It would have been the first time since April that Abbott’s side recorded a second straight shut out but it wasn’t to be as Beedell’s stunning effort from range found the top corner with Whitcombe beaten.
But it was virtually the last kick of the game, and Stafford didn’t have time to force an attack to try and salvage a point, which meant Hinckley picked up all three points and moved back into the top four.
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams, Lee Thomas, Ryan Paddock, Jamal Clarke (Chad Degville-Cross 46), Jordan Perks, Darious Darkin, Ryan Seal (Tom McCrystal 88), Sam Agar, Javia Roberts (Lewis Riley 89), Andy Westwood.
Goals: Javia Roberts (9), Ryan Paddock (78)
Stafford: Ryan Cheshire, Ryan Blagborough, Harry Bowers, Edward Mudzi, Luke Brown (Matt Beedell 75), Walter Vundla, Jack Hepple (Jack Peters 46), Jez Redler, Dan Jones, Ryan Bradshaw, Shepherd Machinguata. Subs not used: Tom Wright, Dom Heath
Goal: Matt Beedell (92)