Hinckley AFC spurned a golden opportunity to close the gap on the top four as Nathanial McKenzie’s equaliser in time added on earned Paget Rangers a point.
Shane Benjamin’s goal on 75 minutes had given Hinckley a lead they deserved on the balance of play, but they missed a series of chances to increase that lead to secure the points and McKenzie made them pay.
Courtney Belford gave a debut to new signing Brady Middleton, who showed enough in this game to indicate he will be a good addition to the squad.
Both sides looked a little ring rusty in the early stages before AFC got on top. Mitch Thomson fired over from 25 yards before the best move of the half, as Ryan Ball’s pass inside the full back set Curtis Townley free on the right and his low ball across the face of goal was smashed against the bar from point blank range by Luke Richards.
The hosts fought back and after Elliott Taylor blocked Dan Carter, it was Paget’s turn to hit the woodwork as Carter’s cross shot came back off the bar.
The first half was an even affair, but it was AFC who stepped up their game after the break as they passed the ball well on the 3G surface and created a number of chances. Thomson was denied by a fine one handed saved from Bradley Hayward who then blocked Lewis Commins as he bore down on goal.
Ball was at the heart of much of Hinckley’s attacking threat and it was no surprise that he claimed an assist for the goal, dinking a neat cross from the left that was guided into the far corner by Benjamin’s deft header.
AFC should have sealed the points as the game opened up with Paget pushing on in search of an equaliser and leaving gaps at the back but Hinckley couldn’t exploit them. A glorious move ended with Dimitri Dunkley dragging his shot across the face of goal before the same player struck the base of a post after being sent through by Benjamin’s flick.
The fragile nature of that lead meant that home side were still in the game and their took their chance deep into time added on as McKenzie drilled home a loose ball in the box to ensure the points were shared.
Paget: Hayward, Cullen (Mullen, 40), Butcher, Clarke, Ricketts, Smith, Fagg (Evans, 75), Drake-Cervantes, Carter, Ward (McKenzie, 60), Burston-Keeley. Subs not used: Ffrench, Al-Massry
Goal: McKenzie (92)
Hinckley: Taylor, Townley, Hirst, Giles, Rowe, Kendrick, Commins (Dunkley, 61), Ball (Green, 90), Richards (Benjamin, 58), Middleton, Thomson. Subs not used: Reuben, Webster
Goal: Benjamin (73)