Hinckley AFC made it two wins from two as early goals from Bekir Halil and Michael Wright earned a hard-fought victory over Coventry Copsewood.
AFC had a previously wretched record in their first midweek game of the season, having lost four of the previous five times they’ve first played under the lights in a campaign, but they quickly abolished that by racing out of the blocks.
Halil scored his second in two games with an acrobatic effort, before Wright doubled their lead before 15 minutes had even passed.
And the defence held firm in the second half as they kept their first clean sheet of the campaign and made it six points from six.
Courtney Belford made just one change to his side that beat Heath Hayes on the opening day, as Wright came in for the injured Jake Healy.
And Hinckley started brightly under the evening sun at the Welfare Ground, taking the lead just eight minutes in. Sam Reuben’s free kick wasn’t cleared, and Ryan Ball returned into the box where Halil, back to goal, hooked it over the backtracking Dale O’Donnell.
Having never scored for the club before, that was Halil’s second in 15 playing minutes having netted the late winner on Saturday.
The captain then had to be on hand at the other end to block from former AFC man Ryan Murphy, before Hinckley doubled their lead six minutes later. Halil’s flick on set Luke Richards free down the left, and his square ball found the free Wright, who coolly slotted home for a goal on his first start.
After Saturday’s late drama, this was the perfect start for Hinckley and they set about making it an even better one with the slope at their advantage. Ball drilled over from range, before a pair of Reuben set pieces caused the visitors problems.
First, Ky Green’s deflected header from a free kick drifted inches wide, before O’Donnell denied Halil with a magnificent close range save after Richards nodded a corner back across goal.
Then, as Hinckley continued to dominate the first half hour, George Brindley had one deflected wide and Halil missed the best chance for a third by skying a loose ball from six yards after Copsewood failed to deal with another set piece.
The visitors, though, had their best spell of the half ten minutes before the break and Hinckley were indebted to Phil Smith’s fine save and some last ditch defending that they kept their clean sheet in tact.
Isa Abraham got to the byline and pulled across where Murphy should have scored, but was denied by a flying Smith save. The rebound was knocked back to Sam Ellis, whose shot was blocked, before Smith saved again from Ellis Layfield as Hinckley scrambled clear.
Smith wasn’t the only ‘keeper on form though – O’Donnell made another fine stop four minutes later to deny Luke Delaney after Ball caught Copsewood overplaying in their own half.
As both sides sought a crucial blow before half time, Alex Lock headed a bouncing ball wide before Smith made another fine save, this time rushing out to block from Jacob Dodds after a neat Copsewood move down the right.
After half time, the visitors had the slope at their advantage and had more of the play, but for their neat passing and possession they rarely called Smith into action as Hinckley defended manfully.
Indeed, it was Hinckley who had the better of the chances up the slope as substitute Lewis Collins was denied by Ben Farquharson’s block early in the half.
Midway through it, Murphy’s turn on the edge of the box allowed him the space to curl goalbound, but Smith was equal to it in palming away.
The half was played at a mostly frenetic pace, but there wasn’t too much goalmouth action to show for it. Halil came closest for Hinckley again when O’Donnell only headed clear as far as him – but his first time strike from 25 yards was beaten away by the recovering ‘keeper in another smart save.
For Coventry, Ellis struck wide from range and substitute Connor Tallett hooked over from a long ball, but that was as close as they came to closing the deficit and Hinckley saw the game out for their second straight win.
Hinckley: Phil Smith, George Brindley, Sam Reuben, Ryan Ball, Ky Green, Curtis Townley, Michael Wright, Bekir Halil, Luke Richards (Ashley Gray 71), Luke Delaney (Mark Williams 59), Alex Lock (Lewis Collins 46). Subs not used: Sam Aldhouse, Chad Timson
Goals: Bekir Halil (8), Michael Wright (14)
Copsewood: Dale O’Donnell, Harry Bartram, Zidane Mistry, Bradley Pitham (Connor Tallett 74), Jack Rooney, Ben Farquharson, Sam Ellis, Jacob Dodds, Ryan Murphy, Ellis Layfield (Luke Seery), Isa Abraham. Subs not used: Nick Brandish, Ashley Piper, Adam Welland