Four-goal Javia Roberts was the star as Hinckley AFC returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 6-1 win at Pelsall Villa.
The diminutive winger was clinical as he scored a hat-trick inside twelve first half minutes to put AFC in control before adding a fourth late on.
Roberts’ four added to Sam Agar’s opener and Francino Francis’ header completed the scoring, the only blemish on a controlled Hinckley performance being Josh Small’s goal which pulled one back for Pelsall on the stroke of half time.
Carl Abbott made four changes to his AFC side beaten by Chelmsley Town on Saturday. Ryan Paddock was injured, Mark Williams and Sean Williams were unavailable through work commitments and Paul Sullivan dropped to the bench with a hamstring niggle. In for them came Jack Farmer, Lee Thomas, Roberts and Ryan Seal.
Hinckley needed a response to Saturday’s performance, and they got it from the first whistle. Just three minutes had passed when they had their first chance – Chad Degville-Cross dragging wide from the edge of the box.
At the other end, Pelsall’s Ryan Wilkins blazed their first opportunity over the bar as the hosts broke forward, but in truth the first half was all Hinckley as they took full advantage of playing down the Bush Ground’s considerable slope.
As they took control, Hinckley felt they should have had a penalty when Roberts was brought down from behind as he pulled the trigger, before they did put the ball in the net ten minutes in. Pelsall cleared against Seal, and the ricochet spun goalbound and bounced over the line, but the officials adjudged Roberts to be interfering with play and the goal was chalked off.
Not to be deterred, James Williams got to the byline and pulled back for Seal, who was denied by Joe Williams’ point blank save.
And Hinckley did break the deadlock 20 minutes in. Seal’s corner was cleared, but the recycled ball fell to Andy Westwood, who whipped in a cross which James Williams flicked into the path of Agar. The striker made no mistake, finding the far corner to give his side the lead.
These were familiar circumstances for Hinckley who dominated the opening stages on Saturday before taking the lead around the same point in the game, but this time they weren’t to make the same mistakes and looked a much more balanced side as they moved the ball nicely.
Just two minutes later, Agar showed great strength to hold off his man on entering the box, and got to the byline where he squared for Roberts to score a simple tap in from close range.
And Hinckley then made it three goals in ten minutes to put themselves in cruise control. A free kick in the left channel was held up by Agar, who fed Roberts to drill home from the edge of the box.
Then, Lee Butler curled a 25 yard effort against the inside of the post as AFC continued to assert their first half dominance.
And the fourth goal came shortly afterwards. Again, it was Agar and Roberts who combined as the striker peeled off to the left and delivered a peach of a cross, with Roberts, one of the smallest players on the pitch, given the freedom of the penalty area to rise and head home for his first Hinckley hat-trick.
The only blip on what was an otherwise fluid first half display came four minutes before the break. From a Hinckley corner, Pelsall broke clear and Daniel Scragg fed Small, who cut back past the sliding challenge of Butler and buried beneath Haydn Whitcombe to deny the ‘keeper a clean sheet.
Kicking up the slope in the second half, Hinckley didn’t have the same territorial advantage that they had in the first but, backed by a good away following which sang loud for much of the second period, they still kept the ball neatly.
Early on, Williams came close to adding a fifth when he nodded Seal’s right wing corner against the post, before Pelsall’s first chance of the half also came from a corner when Small’s far post header was held by Whitcombe.
Pelsall brought on an extra striker at the break but Hinckley coped well with Tom Green’s threat and should have made it 5-1 when Agar latched onto Degville-Cross’ long clearance but blazed comfortably wide.
After that, there was little goalmouth action with Hinckley comfortable at 4-1, but to their credit Pelsall continued to try and play football even though chances were few and far between. Their only opportunity came when Whitcombe saved Scragg’s 25 yard free kick.
And Hinckley finished strongly to add an element of comprehension to the scoreline. The fifth goal came with eight minutes to play, when Roberts was sent through on goal and finished well beyond Williams to net his fourth of the afternoon.
Just a minute later, Thomas’ 25 yarder was tipped over the bar and from the resulting corner, Francis rose highest to head home despite the efforts of a defender on the line.
That rounded off the scoring as Hinckley returned to winning ways and strengthened their grip on second place.
Pelsall: Joe Williams, Frazier Phillips (Tom Green 46), Simon Barber, Michael Murray, Josh Small, Adam Johnson, Liam Degville (Scott Bannister 80), Osiris Robertson, Ryan Wilkins, Daniel Scragg, Tanaka Katsakunya
Goal: Josh Small (41)
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams, Lee Thomas, Jack Farmer, Francino Francis, Andy Westwood, Lee Butler, Ryan Seal (Paul Sullivan 84), Sam Agar, Chad Degville-Cross (Leadun Dunlevy 93), Javia Roberts (Tom McCrystal 88). Sub not used: Lewis Riley
Goals: Sam Agar (20), Javia Roberts (22, 30, 34, 82), Francino Francis (84)