Belford delighted with cup progression

Hinckley AFC manager Courtney Belford was delighted with the way his side reacted to going a goal down in their 3-2 League Cup win over Ashby Ivanhoe.

AFC came from behind at the Welfare Ground, with Mitchell Piggon’s debut goal and a brace for Luke Richards ensuring AFC will face Brocton in round three.

That was despite a nervy finish as Ashby rallied in stoppage time, scoring to make it 3-2 and having one cleared off the line in the 96th minute.

But, aside from the two goals his side conceded, Belford felt AFC were worthy winners. He said: “We were really good today.

“If we need to work teams out for 20-25 minutes, then we do that. But we’ve got to try not to concede goals like we did today from an individual error.

“But after that we were well worthy of the win. For 65 to 70 minutes we were good and we’ve just got to keep trying to play football.

“Just winning games, either the league or cup, is a fantastic habit to have. We’re desperate to keep playing games. The pitch was brilliant, so credit to Mick (the groundsman) and everyone who’s been working on it.”

In particular, Belford praised the two goalscorers – especially two-goal Richards who he says is a model for any youngster in the game.

“I asked about that free kick – he said he’s alright with them just not penalties! I think he’ll be on free kicks for the next game!

“He’s got the quality and his touch from long diagonal balls was immaculate. It’s the desire to bring the ball into play and make things happen.

“Sometimes with younger players there’s not enough of that but Luke’s in his 30s and working as hard as he can every week. They’re the rewards you get for working hard.

“You can never question his effort or commitment. He puts himself through the pain barrier every single time he plays.”

And on Piggon, he admitted he’s the sort of striker his side have been missing this season.

“Mitchell came in and was fantastic. If you’ve got that sort of striker at this level, they’re the results you can have. We’ve sometimes missed that number nine who can score that many goals but that’s why he’s playing at Bedworth.

“He’s come in today (on dual registration) while Bedworth haven’t got a game and once you’ve got those characters in the dressing room, everyone else thrives off that.”

“We missed a few players today being cup tied so it’ll be difficult on Tuesday to pick a team. Some players will have to miss out the squad which isn’t nice but it’s a good sort of problem to have.”

A problem less welcome is the uncertainty around coronavirus – with many leagues in the pyramid joining the professional game in postponing fixtures.

The Midland League meet again on Monday to determine whether Tuesday’s games will go ahead – and Belford says it’s not been easy to prepare.

However, he would like to keep playing for as long as it’s safe for players, officials and supporters.

“It’s tough because it’s not in your control. You’re being guided by the professionals and at our level you’ve got volunteers who have to make important decisions.

“The difficulty at our level is that we have that many games to fit in. If we’re to stop it, people might lose motivation and walk away. We’re all here to play football, and if it comes out of our hands then so be it, and the welfare of people is paramount.”

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