Hinckley AFC made it back-to-back wins with their first home victory of the campaign beating Paget Rangers 2-1.
On a soaking wet afternoon, an impressive 191 people braved Storm Alex and watched AFC enjoy the slick pitch in the first half to deservedly lead at the break through Ben Kendrick.
And when Chris Lloyd doubled his side’s lead with 20 minutes to go, Hinckley should have been set for another win but they were made to sweat after Euan Kemp pulled one back for the visitors shortly after.
Manager Courtney Belford made one change to his Hinckley side that beat Stafford on Tuesday as new signing Isa Abraham made a debut.
And his influence was noticeable from early on, the pacy winger adapting quickly to life at his new club. Just nine minutes had passed when he was involved in a neat move with Lloyd, pulling back for Callum Witherington to force a fingertip save from Paget’s debutant ‘keeper Tommy Doyle.
Reece Giles then glanced wide from Mark Williams’ pinpoint cross before AFC got the lead they merited when they took a corner short and Kendrick headed home a deep cross at the far post.
This was arguably Hinckley’s best half of the season so far and after Williams glanced Nick Brandish’s cross wide, Abraham dragged wide from the edge of the box.
Paget then had their best spell of the half and after Max Turner curled wide from the edge of the box, the same player squandered their best chance of the half. Substitute Rhys Fearon found him in acres of space in the box, but Hinckley stopper Matt Hill pulled off a fine save from close range to keep him out.
After that scare, the home side renewed their press and the visiting goalkeeper continued to impress. Doyle saved impressively from Giles’ volley, Tom Weale’s free kick, Lloyd’s strike after a weaving run and Abraham’s 20-yarder all before half time.
Weale went close again from a set piece early in the second half but in truth AFC struggled for the same control after the break as Paget responded well.
The young side battled well and the lively Fearon blazed over on the angle after a quick break as they sought an equaliser.
But they looked to have a mountain to climb with 20 minutes to go when Hill’s long free kick found Abraham, who was bundled over in the box. Lloyd saw his spot kick saved again by Doyle, but the ball squirmed back into the danger area and Lloyd clinically converted the rebound to give his side breathing space.
But that breathing space was quickly restricted again, a goal of Hinckley’s own making as a defensive mix up, allowed Kemp to backheel home a stationary ball in the six yard box to make for a nervy finish.
But the closest they came was when Hill tipped over Kemp’s sliced free kick, and Hinckley could even have grabbed a third when substitute Luke Richards was denied by a flying block.
It gave AFC an important three points and they move up to fifth ahead of Tuesday’s trip to unbeaten Brocton.
Hinckley: Matt Hill, Nick Brandish (Luke Richards 72), Callum Martin, Mark Williams (Jack Edwards 66), Ben Kendrick, Luke Edwards, Callum Witherington, Tom Weale, Chris Lloyd (Scott Smith 84), Reece Giles, Isa Abraham. Subs not used: Dan Hoskins, Ky Green
Goals: Ben Kendrick (15), Chris Lloyd (71)
Paget: Tommy Doyle, Jamie Smith, Euan Kemp, Justin Burns, Dean Crowley (Rhys Fearon 27), Ryan Butler, McKenzie Humphreys, Oliver Gethin (Harry Parker 66), Clark Wells, Olly Cook (Louie Newbold 51), Max Turner. Sub not used: Brad Lediard
Goal: Euan Kemp (76)