Hinckley AFC were beaten as Chelmsley Town boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Midland League First Division with a 2-1 win at St John’s Park.
AFC lost for the third time in four as their battling visitors earned a deserved victory to move three points clear of the relegation zone.
All looked rosy when Sam Agar put Hinckley ahead midway through the first half but goals from Chris Gumery and Kaine Williams earned all three points for Chelmsley.
Carl Abbott made four changes to his Hinckley side that lost to St Andrews on Tuesday. Ryan Paddock, JJ Melligan, Agar and Sean Williams all returned to the starting eleven as AFC sought to get back to winning ways.
But on a day where the sun shone at St John’s Park, Hinckley looked as though they were ready for the beach for large spells and were laboured in their play.
That said, they started brightly and after Chelmsley’s Karl Douglas had the first shot of the game bloked by Melligan, Hinckley took control.
Hinckley hit the woodwork twice on Tuesday and they reacquainted themselves with the goalframe six minutes in. Paul Sullivan cut inside from the left and fed Agar centrally 20 yards out, the striker unleashing a powerful effort that beat James Kelly in the Chelmsley goal but crashed off the bar.
Then, Chad Degville-Cross’ shot was diverted over the bar by Ross Casey and the resulting corner ended with Kelly comfortably holding Sullivan’s curler.
Then, Sullivan caught Liam Norris sleeping by nipping in and prodding narrowly wide across the face of goal, before AFC made the breakthrough on 20 minutes. Williams came forward down the right and crossed low for Agar, who took one touch before burying beyond the recovering Kelly.
But once they took the lead, Hinckley’s tempo dropped and their play became more laboured, allowing Chelmsley back into the game. When Lee Butler played Francis into trouble, the centre half was caught in possession and Alex Knight attempted an audacious effort from the touchline which landed on the roof of the net.
Then, after Francis gave the ball away, Chelmsley worked the ball nicely out to Stephen Sadler, who struck a fine 25 yard effort which Haydn Whitcombe had to tip around the post.
At the other end, Agar controlled a Paddock pass on his chest and struck a well executed shot which forced Kelly into a diving save, before Kelly also saved from Williams as Hinckley sought a second before the break.
As it was, the sides went in level. It was a poor goal concede from Hinckley’s point of view as Melligan was caught in possession in the centre circle and Chelmsley came forward, Gumery shifting onto his left foot and firing an effort beyond Whitcombe.
Hinckley came out early for the second half and would have wanted to assert their authority on the second half from the start, but instead there was little urgency in their play and Chelmsley started the better.
As in the first half, it was Douglas who had the first chance of the second as he sliced off target from the edge of the box, before Hinckley’s first notable opportunity came when Butler’s superb delivery into the box was inches away from being converted by the sliding Williams at the far post.
Then Agar, Hinckley’s biggest threat, crashed against the bar again after receiving the ball with his back to goal and turning on a sixpence on the edge of the box.
AFC were then denied strong penalty appeals when James Williams was bundled to the ground by Casey but the officials remained unmoved to Hinckley’s bemusement.
But Chelmsley still offered a threat going forward and when they broke forward at pace from a Hinckley corner, Douglas’ strike was parried by Whitcombe and Williams closed in but saw his effort superbly clawed off the line by the recovering ‘keeper, who wasn’t to know that the assistant had flagged for a foul by Williams.
And Hinckley went behind just a minute later when Williams powered home an angled drive.
Yet despite going behind, Hinckley still lacked energy in their play and were lacking ideas in trying to break down a Chelmsley side who defended resolutely and held their shape well.
The closest they came was deep into stoppage time when Butler’s corner landed with Andy Westwood, whose goalbound shot was blocked and Chelmsley cleared after desperately defending their lead to hold out for all three points.
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams (Lee Thomas 63), Chad Degville-Cross, Ryan Paddock (Mark Williams 46), Francino Francis, JJ Melligan, Lee Butler, Andy Westwood, Sam Agar, Paul Sullivan (Leadun Dunlevy 68), Sean Williams. Subs not used: Jack Hartopp, Lewis Riley
Goal: Sam Agar (20)
Chelmsley: James Kelly, Liam Norris, Stephen Sadler, James Sawyer, Ross Casey, Tom Ellis, Adam Keeley, Karl Douglas, Kaine Williams, Chris Gumery, Alex Knight (Daniel Elwell 83). Subs not used: Andy Jones, Jason Gordon, Robert Ellis, Mitchell Thompson
Goals: Chris Gumery (44), Kaine Williams (67)