Hinckley AFC failed to beat Leicester Road for the first time in five meetings between the sides as the hosts came away with a 2-1 win this afternoon.
On a pitch that cut up as the game wore on, Hinckley were lacking their usual creative spark for large spells despite having the lion’s share of the ball.
AFC fell behind early on to Matt Stenson’s goal, and were left chasing the game in the last quarter of an hour when Stenson bagged a second.
Sam Agar quickly gave Hinckley hope but despite late pressure and coming close on two occasions, AFC couldn’t find the leveller and the hosts held on.
Hinckley made one change from the side that beat Uttoxeter 6-2 last week, with Jordan Perks dropping to the bench to allow James Williams to come in at left back in the continued absence of the injured Lee Thomas.
In truth, neither side showed why they were sitting second and third in the league at the first whistle, although Hinckley did settle the quicker. With the first chance of the game, Agar saw an early header spilled by home ‘keeper Will Highland and the defence had to be on hand to clear.
Then, the keeper denied Agar with his legs after the forward cut in from the left, and Darious Darkin blazed over after dancing past a challenge as Hinckley sought the first goal.
But the deadlock was to be broken at the other end not long after. With Leicester Road’s first shot, Stenson cut in from the left and fired a low effort goalbound which took a deflection and slid under the body of Hinckley ‘keeper Haydn Whitcombe.
At the time, the goal came against the run of play but after it Leicester Road started to come into the game more. Shortly afterwards Stenson, their biggest threat throughout, saw a far post header comfortably dealt with by Whitcombe.
At the other end, Ryan Seal saw a shot blocked and Sean Williams had a sweetly struck half volley fly straight at Highland but real chances were few and far between.
That was until the stroke of half time, when Hinckley had Ryan Paddock to thank that they only went in one goal down. Leicester Road’s best move of the match saw intricate build up play down the right involving Sam Munton, Tom McGlinchey and Stenson, leading to Amarvir Sandhu having two close range efforts superbly blocked by the flying Paddock.
The second half continued in a similar vein, Hinckley seeing more of the ball but real chances at a premium. Two minutes into it, Agar had a shot blocked and Leicester Road scrambled clear.
Then, Sean Williams found space on the right and crossed into the box, where Agar nodded into the path of Seal, who volleyed wide.
But both sides were mostly restricted to long range efforts until Leicester Road doubled their lead with 17 minutes to play. It was another goal which Hinckley would have been disappointed to concede as James Williams missed his interception on halfway and Stenson ran through on goal to finish neatly into the corner.
That woke Hinckley up, and the final quarter of an hour was almost one way traffic towards the Leicester Road goal. With nine minutes left, Hinckley pulled a goal back. Perks, on as a substitute, executed a magnificent tackle on Sandhu on halfway allowing Hinckley to come forward, and when Agar was slipped through on goal he made no mistake in halving the deficit.
The momentum was now with Hinckley, and in the minutes that followed they came agonisingly close to equalising. First, Perks’ 20 yard shot was spilled again by Highland, and Agar’s follow up header looped over the keeper but bounced off the bar.
Then, two minutes later, Ryan Seal’s wide free kick led to a mini scramble, which Mark Williams forced goalbound before Leicester Road scrambled clear. Williams, along with a couple of other Hinckley players, wheeled away to celebrate the equaliser and was dismayed when the assistant referee didn’t adjudge that the ball had crossed the line.
Hinckley clearly felt the ball had gone in but still found themselves a goal behind, and the game should have been killed off when Leicester Road broke forward soon after. Jake Holt fed McGlinchey, whose angled drive was tipped around the post by a full stretch Whitcombe.
After that, Hinckley had plenty of pressure but couldn’t fashion any chances of note, and the home side held on to record their first ever win over AFC.
Leicester Road: Will Highland, Jordan Burrows, Jack Harrison (Luke Kingsley-Smith 69), Greg Downes (Jake Holt 84), Nick Hawkins, Callum Earls, Sam Munton, Joe Lyne, Matt Stenson, Tom McGlinchey, Amarvir Sandhu (Josh Unsworth 96). Subs not used: Jack Humphreys, Ken Hughes
Goals: Matt Stenson (16, 73)
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, Chad Degville-Cross (Javia Roberts 64), James Williams, Ryan Paddock, Jamal Clarke (Jordan Perks 66), Mark Williams, Lee Butler (JJ Melligan 64), Ryan Seal, Sam Agar, Sean Williams, Darious Darkin. Sub not used: Lewis Riley
Goal: Sam Agar (81)