Hinckley AFC 2-0 Barrow Town

Hinckley AFC made it ten home wins in a row as a goal in each half earned a 2-0 victory over Barrow Town.

Charlie Evans’ early header and Lewis Rankin’s deflected second half strike proved the difference in a scrappy game made difficult by the conditions.

But AFC did enough to extend their excellent home form and kept a fifth straight home clean sheet in front of an excellent midweek crowd of 255.

It also meant Hinckley continued their 100% record in 2022 and went three points clear at the top of the table in the process.

Courtney Belford made three changes to his side that beat Aylestone Park ten days earlier. Drew Kear replaced the injured Nick Brandish, while Luke Wilson and Ryan Harkin returned.

And just six minutes passed when Hinckley broke the deadlock – a precise header from leading scorer Charlie Evans after the impressive Ben Vallance had knocked back Lewis Rankin’s corner.

It was the fifth game in a row in which Evans had scored since his return from injury.

Barrow came into the game in good form themselves and, had they been more clinical, could have become the first team to score against Hinckley at Kirkby Road from open play this season.

Fabien Rennels tried to take advantage of Matt Hill’s scuffed clearance but the ‘keeper recovered well, before the same player shot straight at Hill when well placed after a wind-assisted set-piece caused problems.

They were the standout chances of a bitty half, Hinckley going close again just before the break when Harkin’s shot on the turn was deflected narrowly wide.

Set pieces provided much of the game’s chances and it did so again for Barrow two minutes into the half half when Darren Taylor headed straight at Hill.

Neither side ever gained a true ascendancy though. Evans bent one wide and Rankin blazed over after Mikkel Hirst’s good work as Hinckley sought a second.

And they got it midway through the half when Rankin picked up a half clearance from Kear’s cross and his strike was deflected into the bottom corner.

Hinckley were thankful for Vallance and Ben Whitehead throwing their bodies in front of shots to maintain their clean sheet.

But it was AFC who looked more likely to add to their lead late on with Tyson Knight’s well-struck shot from range and Kear’s weaving run both forcing saves from Joe Tarris.

And though Hinckley were by no means at their best, it was job done for Belford’s side.

Hinckley: Matt Hill, Ben Whitehead, Mikkel Hirst, Jack Edwards, Luke Wilson, Ben Vallance, Drew Kear, Tom Weale (Lewis Padmore 89), Ryan Harkin (Tyson Knight 60), Charlie Evans, Lewis Rankin (Ryan Slinn 73). Subs not used: Jeremie Agholor, Isa Abraham

Goals: Charlie Evans (6), Lewis Rankin (66)

Barrow: Joe Tarris, Olly Preston, Pradeep Bahrey, Jake McIntosh, Harris Saunders, Wade Ball, Andrei Receala (Emilio Stravrou), Jordan Holmes, Darren Taylor (Tom Mangan 63), Nick Reeves, Fabien Rennels (Mitch Woodbine 73). Subs not used: Adam Bowley, Josh Bowley

Attendance: 255

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