Ryan Harkin again demonstrated his quality in front of goal with a hat trick inside ten minutes as Hinckley completed their regular league season with a 4-2 victory at Blackstones.
AFC were trailing to an early goal before Harkin struck with a couple of predatory strikes either side of a sublime finish to turn the game in Hinckley’s favour.
On a sunny, blustery afternoon at Blackstones’ very tidy Lincoln Road ground, it was an entertaining game against a spirited outfit. Blackstones belied their lowly league position and it was the home side took the lead after twelve minutes, Josh Edmundson netting off the inside of the far post.
But 15 minutes later, Harkin intervened. He drew Hinckley level, pouncing from close range after Tyson Knight flicked on Drew Kear’s long throw.
Shortly after came the goal of the game, as Harkin received a pass from Charlie Evans inside the box in the inside left channel. He opened up his body and simply passed the ball into the net inside the far post – the finish of a master craftsman.
Evans then saw an effort blocked on the line before Harkin completed his quick fire treble, alert on the far post to convert Joe Cairns’ corner from the right.
But if Hinckley thought they would cruise to victory, they were mistaken. Just before the break, they conceded possession on halfway and Scott Waumsley raced through to reduce the deficit.
That frantic first half gave way to a more subdued affair after the break. Chances were limited, Josh Pike headed wide of a gaping goal for the home side before Harry Sawyer saw his effort pushed aside by Simon Dalton.
The introduction of a couple of subs upped the tempo and it was one of them, Isa Abraham, who completed the scoring. He drove into the roof of the net after receiving Sawyer’s pass at the end of a flowing move.
The restoration of the two goal cushion allowed Courtney Belford to make his final change and give young goalkeeper Sam Chalkley his senior debut. He made a telling contribution when he blocked from Connor Pilbeam as he bore down on goal.
The final act of the afternoon saw AFC presented with their medals for finishing as league runners-up, sportingly appreciated by the Blackstones players and management who stayed on the pitch to applaud.
Blackstones: Simon Dalton, Jake Walton (Zac Treweek 67), Archie Wallace, Ricki Goodale, Robert Parker-Meadows, Matt Cox, Jack Wilson, Mario Neves, Josh Edmundson (Connor Pilbeam 64), Scott Waumsley, Josh Pike (Dan Gargan 80). Subs not used: Bradlee Page, Ed Sakovich
Hinckley: Matt Hill (Sam Chalkley 78), Drew Kear, Mikkel Hirst, Tyson Knight, Ben Whitehead, Ben Vallance, Harrison Sawyer, Liam Cairns, Ryan Harkin (Jeremie Agholor 63), Joe Cairns (Isa Abraham 63), Charlie Evans. Sub not used: Lewis Rankin