Hinckley AFC’s league opener ended in defeat as Dudley Town’s Kyle Montague scored twice to earn them a 2-1 win at Noose Lane.
For the second time in successive games, AFC took the lead but couldn’t hold on as second half pressure earned the hosts the lead.
Joe Conneely handed a debut to new loan signing Cameron Moore for his first league game in charge, while Harry Walker-Donovan also started.
And Moore nearly had an immediate impact, beating his man in the fourth minute and seeing a 25-yarder tipped over.
The opening salvo was well-contested between two sides looking to use the 3G pitch to their advantage. The sides exchanged jabs as Dudley’s Joe Colley headed over from a corner, and Hinckley’s James Reid fired over from a loose ball in the box.
Montague was a threat all evening, and his first warning came on 20 minutes when he cut in from the right but fired straight at Brandon Bache.
Hinckley then came close when Lewis Collins glanced a free header across the face of goal, before they took the lead 25 minutes in. Moore poked Emile Beckford through on goal, who made no mistake despite ‘keeper Joe Gilbert getting a foot to his shot.
That spurred Dudley on and they had the better of the game leading up to half time. Montague glanced wide under good defensive pressure from Jack Beasley, while Bache denied Dan Danks at the near post and Connor Archer’s long range strike.
But Hinckley took their lead into the interval and started the second half brightly. With the first move of the half Beckford had a sight of goal but shot tamely at Gilbert.
Reid then ballooned one over the bar when well placed and Beckford dragged wide after a clever spin of his man as Hinckley looked to extend their lead.
But then Dudley came on strong and Bache denied Danks again before they got their leveller. Just after the hour, a ball into the box was headed back across goal and the unmarked Montague guided his header beyond Bache.
Reid and Montague then exchanged efforts again, Reid’s fierce drive from range fumbled wide by Gilbert, before Montague flashed across the face.
And Dudley’s big number nine turned the game on its head with 13 minutes to play. Archer won a meaty tackle that sent him through on goal, and he outpaced the defence to finish with aplomb.
Now it was Hinckley’s challenge to put the pressure on as Dudley tried to manage the game, and they had two golden chances in the dying moments to take a draw. Substitute Lewis Rankin smashed over from six yards after Tarique Hunter’s pull back with four minutes left.
Beasley then had strong penalty shouts turned down after he appeared to be tripped in the box, and the final play of the game led to a Hinckley corner from which Hunter hooked wide from six yards.
That was Hinckley’s final chance to salvage a draw from their opening league game, and they must go again in search of their first points against last season’s beaten play-off finalists Stapenhill on Saturday.
Dudley: Joe Gilbert, Connor Archer, Kyle Field, Joe Colley, Dan Hadley (Jamie Bedhall 78), Alex Perry, Dan Danks, Owen Massey (Todd Sherwood 66 (Rob Hanna 93)), Kyle Montague (Kayne Butler 87), Hinesh Patel, Joe Scriven. Sub not used: Ethan Hawkes
Goals: Kyle Montague (62, 77)
Hinckley: Brandon Bache, Tarique Hunter, Jeremie Agholor, Jack Beasley, Luke Wilson, Joe McNulty, Harry Walker-Donovan, James Reid (Lewis Rankin 73), Emile Beckford, Cameron Moore, Lewis Collins (Fortune Sibanda 85). Subs not used: Perri McCullough, Ryan Murphy, Kai Gibbs
Goal: Emile Beckford (25)