Hinckley AFC fell to a second home defeat of the season as top of the table Lichfield City scored three first half goals to take the points from the Welfare Ground.
AFC got off to the perfect start when Jordan Wilson fired them into the lead with less than a minute on the clock, but they failed to capitalise on that with a lacklustre display thereafter.
James Taylor scored twice to turn the game around, and Joe Hartshorne left Hinckley with an uphill battle when he netted a third in first half stoppage time.
Joe McLaughlin’s header gave Hinckley a shout, but they rarely threatened a leveller and ended with ten men after Kieran Harrison was sent off.
After fielding an inexperienced side on Tuesday, AFC were back with more first team regulars against Lichfield as Jason Lee, Jean Dakouri, Louis Hamilton and Jordan Wilson all returned.
They were, though, without the influential Sam Belcher while Tom Maddison was also missing through injury.
But the absentees didn’t seem to be affecting Hinckley when they took the lead after just 55 seconds. Hamilton’s looped ball found Harrison, who in turn slipped in Wilson on the right hand edge of the box to fire his side ahead with a precise finish into the top corner.
It was the perfect start, but Lichfield reacted better after the goal and started to gain the ascendancy as AFC were second to most balls.
The visitors’ Taylor and Drew Aiten both had efforts saved, either side of Harrison forcing Matt Cotton into routine action.
And Lichfield equalised on 17 minutes when Jepson’s corner was cleared at the near post, and the visitors broke quickly. Taylor played a one-two with Max Black, the latter setting him in behind and he neatly slid under the advancing Jacob Wood to level.
Dan Shepard then blazed over at the far post at the hosts sought to turn the game on its head, before Hinckley went up the other end and Cameron Gilchrist got on the end of a free kick – his shot deflected wide by a flying Adam Robinson block.
Harrison then tried another effort from range which Cotton held well, but the better chances fell the visitors’ way and they turned the game around on the half hour. Taylor was left in acres of space down the right channel, and bearing down on goal he lashed one into the far corner.
But even having gone a goal down, Hinckley remained second best and the visitors added a third goal three minutes into stoppage time. Jordan Evans’ shot was parried, and Hartshorne reacted quickest to convert a simple rebound and leave Hinckley with a mountain to climb.
AFC introduced Ollie Hart at half time in the hope of gaining some impetus from the Under 18s winger, and they had a golden chance four minutes into the half when Harrison’s wide free kick was nodded inches wide by the stooping Jason Lee.
Had that gone in, the second half may have had a different feel to it but the visitors gained confidence the longer the half went on and should have scored another goal of their own, Hartshorne blazing over at the far post from a looping deflected cross.
Just after the hour, though, Hinckley did gain hope of salvaging something from the game. For the second time in two games, McLaughlin rose highest from a corner to nod home Harrison’s delivery and halve the deficit.
But if that gave Hinckley cause for optimism, their hopes were dashed again with 20 minutes to go. Harrison and Harry Harris competed for a ball at knee height, which Harris beat his opposite number to.
Harrison caught the former Hinckley midfielder, but AFC were shocked to see referee Scott Hamilton brandish red and make their task of retrieving something from the game even more difficult.
After that, Lichfield managed the game well and, led by a fine display by Robinson, restricted Hinckley’s chances.
The only time Hinckley forced Cotton into action was with eight minutes remaining. Hamilton raced through on the left hand side and bent one goalbound. Cotton pushed it away and Wilson’s appeals for a penalty from the follow up were waved away as Lichfield cleared.
As the visitors kept the ball in the corner, Hinckley couldn’t fashion any further chances and the visitors retained their place at the summit of Division One.
Hinckley: Jacob Wood, Cameron Gilchrist, Matt Jelfs (Nkosi Mzungwana 58), Chris Hollist, Joe McLaughlin, Jason Lee, Louis Hamilton, Kieran Harrison, Jean Dakouri, Jordan Wilson, James Jepson (Ollie Hart 46). Subs not used: George Warren, Jaydn Kettle, Thabang Dube
Goals: Jordan Wilson (1), Joe McLaughlin (63)
Lichfield: Matt Cotton, Josh Mansell, Jordan Evans, Adam Robinson, Luke Wright, Max Black, Dan Shepard, Harry Harris (Scott Cooper 72), James Taylor (Dan Griffiths 76), Drew Aiten (Brad Lindsey 78), Joe Hartshorne. Subs not used: Alex Forde, Brad Rolston
Goals: James Taylor (17, 30), Joe Hartshorne (45+2)