Two goals of the highest quality helped Hinckley AFC end a run of three straight defeats as they overcame Stafford Town on a crisp autumn evening at Evans Park.
The final score was harsh on the home side who played their part in a competitive encounter, especially in the first half, but it was the calibre of Hinckley’s finishing that separated the sides.
Chris Lloyd’s fabulous opener was an early contender for goal of the season, and yet was arguably overshadowed by Tom Weale’s second half stunner from the halfway line as Callum Martin also scored his first for the club.
That quality was evident after just six minutes. There seemed little on for Lloyd when he received the ball on the left hand corner of the penalty area, but he manufactured a goal out of nothing as he curled his effort into the top corner to give AFC the lead.
After Reece Giles saw his diving header ruled out by an offside flag, the home side came into it and twice in quick succession Hinckley cleared off their own line after Matt Hill was forced out of his box to stop a quick Stafford attack. As he was stranded, the loose ball fell to Connor Leek but timely clearances from Ben Kendrick and Luke Edwards preserved Hinckley’s lead.
After Dan Hoskins’ powerful long range shot was clawed away at full stretch by Joe Morris, the visitors doubled their lead just before the break. The goal had an element of good fortune about it as Callum Martin got to the left hand byline and delivered a cross that was deflected to wrong foot Morris and loop into the net.
Given Hinckley’s recent record of defending two goal leads, the next goal was crucial and it was a quite stunning effort just beyond the hour mark. Weale won possession on halfway and as the ball sat up nicely for him, he looked up to see Morris off his line. He drove a perfect shot over the frantically backpedalling keeper and the ball dropped into the net, a remarkable effort from the Hinckley skipper to give his side some extra breathing space.
That goal knocked the wind out of the home side and AFC coasted to full time to claim three excellent points on the road.
Stafford: Morris, Dudley, Blagbrough (Beedell 70), Swingwood, Carbon, Bailey, Scott (Wilson 56), Ashman, Duffy, Olugbon (Wainwright 80), Leek. Subs not used: Heath, Beatles
Hinckley: Hill, Brandish, Martin (Kear 60), Williams, Kendrick, L Edwards, Witherington, Weale, Lloyd (Richards 80), Giles, Hoskins (J Edwards 45). Subs not used: Gibbs, Smith