Hinckley AFC and Brocton shared ten goals in a crazy 90 minutes of football that saw Hinckley return to winning ways despite a late scare.
In what was a frantic game throughout on a surface given extra zip by the adverse weather, Hinckley fell behind early through Joe Hartshorne’s header but had taken full control by half time, leading 4-1 at the break.
Brocton pulled one back after half time, but AFC were cruising at 4-2 going into the final ten minutes, even more so when Steve Hart added a fifth.
But Brocton weren’t lying down. They pulled it back to 5-4 with three minutes to go, before Ryan Baldwin eased Hinckley’s nerves and secured the points.
Carl Abbott made three changes to the Hinckley side that was beaten at Ilkeston last week – Isaac Cooper and Sean Williams returning while Sean Geddes made his first start. Those to drop out were Joe Haines (knock), Lee Miveld (departed for Rugby Town) and Richard Munday (injured).
Strikers Hart and George Bowerman both threatened early on for the hosts but it was Brocton who took an early lead. Hinckley’s defence were ball watching, and Hartshorne nipped in to head home via a deflection.
But Hinckley weren’t behind for long, and Williams, arguably one of Hinckley’s stand out players so far this term, equalised with a fine strike from just inside the area.
Abbott’s side continued to take advantage of the surface, despite the long grass, and two minutes later they had not only turned the game on its head, but further increased their advantage to two goals. Bowerman fired home after Hart’s shot was saved by Adam Jenkins, before the same player scored a wonderful third with a stunning side foot volley from Lee Butler’s cross.
Shellshocked by Hinckley’s blitz of goals, Brocton looked to re-group but Bowerman came close to his hat-trick, only for his dink to float narrowly over.
Then, at the other end, Hinckey were indebted to Isaac Cooper for clearing off the line from Paul McMahon.
Four minutes before the break, Hart put Hinckley in a position of power by shifting onto his left foot and firing home from the edge of the box to add a fourth.
That should have made Hinckley more comfortable after the break, and for a time they were. The sides exchanged early chances after half time as Whitcombe foiled Hartshorne’s long range effort, before Hart pulled wide after being set up by Geddes.
Bowerman then side footed wide of the top corner as Hinckley sought a fifth, but it was the Badgers who netted next through Hartshorne’s fine free kick, which found the net via the underside of the bar.
With both sides committed to playing expansive football, the game remained open and Hart and Bowerman, ever-threatening, combined to go close again, the former heading over from the latter’s pinpoint delivery.
Buoyed by Hartshorne’s stunning goal, the visitors saw more of the play in the final stages but Whitcombe was largely untroubled, and AFC looked to have killed the game off with eight minutes to play. After good link up play between substitutes Kyle Minto and Danny Edwards, Hart slammed home his second of the afternoon after cutting in from the left.
But back came Brocton as Hinckley switched off, causing nerves to increase around the ground when they scored twice more to reduce their deficit to just one goal. Hartshorne, their biggest threat during the afternoon, turned from scorer to provider with a fine crossfield ball to Jamie Evans, who took full advantage of Hinckley’s defensive lapse to nod home a free header.
He then repeated the trick three minutes later, this time finding Shaan Stuart to slot home from close range.
But Baldwin finally did put the game beyond doubt a minute into stoppage time with a fine solo goal. He twisted and turned his way into a one-on-one and coolly slotted past the onrushing Jenkins to bring an end to the frantic proceedings.
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, Marcus Jackson, Isaac Cooper, James Williams, Mitchell Tomlinson, Jean Kalenda (Kyle Minto 63), Lee Butler, Sean Geddes (Danny Edwards 59), Steve Hart, George Bowerman (Ryan Baldwin 77), Sean Williams. Subs not used: Ben Rad, Joe Haines
Goals: Sean Williams (17), George Bowerman (19, 21), Steve Hart (42, 81), Ryan Baldwin (91)
Brocton: Adam Jenkins, Anthony Juxon, Adam Wood, Adam Robinson, Tom Vaughan, Shaan Stuart, Matthew Dean, Dan Lomas, Jack Edwards, Paul McMahon, Joe Hartshorne. Substitutes: Ryan Burns, Jamie Evans, Sam Garbett, Kenny Devoir
Goals: Joe Hartshorne (9, 66), Jamie Evans (84), Shaan Stuart (86)