Hinckley AFC 2-1 Brocton

Hinckley AFC returned to winning ways with a fine 2-1 win over top of the table Brocton at the Welfare Ground. 

Hinckley put their recent poor form behind them with a hard-fought victory over a Brocton side who had previously lost just once this season.

The three points came courtesy of first half goals from Jake Brown and Lewis Commins, which put Hinckley two goals to the good.

But unlike last week against Rocester, this time they held onto their lead which meant Connor Haddaway’s second half strike was just a consolation.

Courtney Belford made two changes to the side beaten by Rocester last week. Commins came back into the side while new signing Tom Smith made his debut.

Regan Smith has been Brocton’s biggest threat this season, netting nine times already, and he gave the Hinckley defence an early warning of his abilities when he fired one into the side netting after combining with Jake Thomas after a quarter of an hour.

But, in a half largely even in terms of possession, Hinckley were better in the final third and soon took the lead. From good work down the right by Commins, Brown forced home at the second attempt for his third of the season.

The visitors kept the ball well and continued to threaten on occasions, such as when Ty Belford denied Jack Weldon after neat work down the right, but Hinckley continued to have the better of the chances.

And after Tom Smith was denied a debut goal by Kenny Devoir’s block following Luke Richards’ good work down the left, Hinckley doubled their lead on the stroke of half time.

Commins turned from provider to scorer, ghosting in at the far post to nod home Ash Gray’s cross from close range.

That put Hinckley two to the good at half time, but even after the break they had chances to extend that lead – and Liam Cross headed Isaac Cooper’s corner wide as they sought a third.

But Brocton, though they never had a total control on the match, continued to move the ball well and had spells of pressure that forced Hinckley back.

During them, Regan Smith headed a half chance wide at the near post before Josh Wilson nodded wide from a more clear-cut header after being picked out by Adam Weldon.

But Hinckley defended well on the whole and when they did attack, substitute Luke Shorthouse had a pair of chances to put the game to bed.

He thought he’d scored his second in two games but was denied by the offside flag, before Cameron Howkins blocked his rebound after Cooper’s effort was also blocked.

But the Badgers then had another spell of pressure, and from it they hauled themselves back into the game. From a well taken short corner, Haddaway’s low cross eluded everyone and nestled in the far corner to halve their deficit.

Given last week’s surrendering of a 2-0 lead, that could have set nerves going around the Welfare Ground, but AFC held out despite Brocton having plenty of the play.

That said, you always felt like they would have one chance – and it came with two minutes to go when Wilson put a well-placed 25 yard free kick straight at Belford.

Shorthouse had another chance to settle it but was denied by Dylan Mandaracus, but it mattered not and when Belford held from Wilson again at his near post, Hinckley had secured their win.

It means four teams are now level on 18 points at the top of Division One with Uttoxeter and Lichfield joining Hinckley and Brocton at the top.

Hinckley: Ty Belford, George Brindley, Ash Gray, Ryan Ball, Liam Cross, Greg Webb, Lewis Commins, Jake Brown, Luke Richards (Luke Shorthouse 58), Tom Smith (Scott Smith 82), Isaac Cooper. Subs not used: Sam Reuben, Ellis Chambers, Michael Wright

Goals: Jake Brown (20), Lewis Commins (42)

Brocton: Dylan Mandaracus, Adam Weldon, Jack Partridge, Cameron Howkins, Kenny Devoir, Jake Thomas (Ben Douglas 52), Josh Wilson, Connor Haddaway, Regan Smith, Dan Lomas (Reinaldo Forbes 61), Jack Weldon (Malaki Norford 75). Sub not used: Christian Blanchette

Goal: Connor Haddaway (70)

Attendance: 134

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