Ben Ashby scored a stoppage time winner on debut as Hinckley AFC came from behind to earn their first win of the season 2-1 at Chelmsley Town.
The game looked destined for a draw, Hinckley’s third in a row to start the campaign, until Ashby raced in at the far post to convert Ben Kendrick’s header back across goal in the 93rd minute.
It was reward for a much improved second half from Hinckley in which Chris Lloyd’s third in two games had equalised Adam Keeley’s opener for Chelmsley during a laboured first half from the visitors.
Ashby was one of three changes from Saturday’s draw with Uttoxeter – the returning Isaac Cooper making his 100th appearance for the club and ex-Stratford Town winger Rheiss McLean his debut.
But AFC were sloppy for long spells in the first half and, for having the lions’ share of possession, created little to show for it.
Much of the scrappy half was played in midfield, though when Hinckley got the ball out to McLean early on he drove at his man and cracked a shot against the bar.
But that was as close as Hinckley came during the first half and Chelmsley took advantage, breaking the deadlock after a quarter of an hour when Adam Keeley finished off a well-worked move with a far post header from Rob Ellis’ cross.
With chances few and far between, Hinckley threatened from set pieces but Ben Whitehead failed to connect with Cooper’s corner, before the resulting set piece forced Tom Allsop to tip over what would have been an own goal.
But Chelmsley had the better opportunities – Jeorge Smith steered wide when well-placed and Billy Spink had to race back and clear off the line to prevent what would have been a comical own goal.
It meant the home side took their slender advantage into the interval but Hinckley immediately looked sharper after the break, moving the ball quicker and with more purpose.
And just four minutes into the half they were rewarded. Ashby, having barely had a kick in the first half, was involved as his fierce drive was parried back into the danger area by Allsop, and Ashby himself was adjudged to have been fouled as he went for the rebound. Lloyd stepped up and fired an unstoppable spot kick into the top corner for his third goal in Hinckley colours.
Lloyd was regularly on the end of Hinckley’s good play – just five minutes later he struck over following Cooper’s cut back, and then shot tamely wide after a fabulous turn on the edge of the box.
The same player then cut inside and curled narrowly over Allsop’s far post as Hinckley sought the goal that would put them ahead.
After the tame first half, the second half was largely one-way traffic but Chelmsley defended manfully as they tried to hold their point.
Cooper was the next to have a go for Hinckley, a comfortable save for Allsop at his near post, before Luke Richards’ pinpoint cross was bundled wide by McLean at the far post.
And that looked like being that for Hinckley until Danny Harris stood over a 93rd minute free kick, as Ashby popped up to spark jubilant scenes among the visiting players and fans alike.
Chelmsley: Tom Allsop, Rob Ellis, Sam Aldhouse (James Brown 87), Dean Morris, Jordan Wade, Adam Keeley, Tom Ellis (Sam Jeeves 20), James Medford, Jeorge Smith, Lyndon Weller, Kieran Nesbitt (Aaron Stroud 78). Sub not used: Corey Solomon
Goal: Adam Keeley (15)
Hinckley: Billy Spink, Reece Giles, Isaac Cooper, Dan Hoskins, Ben Whitehead, Ben Kendrick, Rheiss McLean (Kai Gibbs 92), Chris Lloyd, Ben Ashby, Callum Martin (Luke Richards 62), Mark Williams (Danny Harris 46). Sub not used: Drew Kear
Goals: Chris Lloyd (50 pen), Ben Ashby (93)