Nuneaton Griff 1-2 Hinckley AFC

An extraordinary finale to what had been a pretty ordinary game saw Hinckley AFC turn the game on its head to steal three valuable, if rather fortuitous, points at The Pingles.

Griff took the lead through Ross Proudlock late in the first half and AFC rarely looked like getting back into the game until Ryan Ball fired home a spectacular goal with six minutes remaining and moments later, Lewis Commins scrambled home the winner.

To add to the late drama, both sides had a man sent off in the closing moments.

Courtney Belford paraded three new signings as Michael Townsend, Mikkel Hirst and Mitch Thomson all made their debuts, and the visitors began the brighter side, early on Commins outpaced the home defence and bore down on goal but Joe Salisbury pushed his shot onto the far post.

As the half developed though, Griff got on top. Adam Harrison pushed over Lewis Collins’ shot after a neat build up before the home side took the lead ten minutes before the break, a quick free kick found Alex Lock in space on the left, he got to the bye-line and squared a low ball that Proudlock converted from close range.

Hinckley continued to labour after the break, they could have levelled with Bekir Halil whipped in a free kick that was met by Townsend’s powerful header only for Salisbury to tip over, but that was a rare threat.

Indeed the home side look likeliest to score again as AFC left gaps at the back and Connor McEwan was denied twice, first by the cross bar and second by Adam Harrison’s block.

Harrison then denied Joe Miles before play switched back to the other end as Luke Richards’ flick found Scott Smith in the box, he took a good touch to compose himself but Salisbury blocked with his legs.

That looked to be it for Hinckley, but Ball had other ideas. There appeared to be nothing on when he received a pass from Luke Shorthouse on the right hand edge of the area but he produced a sublime finish over the stranded keeper and into the far corner.

As Hinckley fans celebrated their side’s get out of jail card, it got even better shortly after. Halil’s left wing corner created mayhem inside the six yard box and Commins was alert to scramble home the ball from close range.

In a nerve wracking and lengthy spell of time added on, both sides were reduced to ten men. Firstly, Shorthouse was shown a straight red for a challenge on the half way line before McEwan was also dismissed after collecting a second yellow card, whilst in between Harrison did well to tip over at point blank range to preserve an unlikely three points.

GRIFF – Salisbury, Martin, Davies, Aston, Thackeray, Greenway, Proudlock, Miles, Collins (Williams, 72), McEwan, Lock (Whitelaw, 77). Subs not used Lindley, Jakolevs, Clarke

Goal – Proudlock (35)

AFC – Harrison, Webb, Gray, Brown (Smith, 72), Green, Townsend, Commins, Halil, Richards, Thomson (Ball, 23), Hirst (Shorthouse, 58). Subs not used Cross, Reuben.

Goals – Ball (84), Commins (87)

Attendance – 143