A frantic finale saw three goals in the closing moments as Heath Hayes and Hinckley AFC shared a 2-2 Midland League Division One draw.
The lead changed hands twice late on with both sides feeling as though victory slipped through their hands as they had to settle for a point apiece.
Heath Hayes looked as though they were heading for their first win of the campaign as Matty Hardiman’s first half goal gave them a lead, but two superb late strikes from Lewis Padmore put Hinckley in front. There was one late, final twist though when Matt O’Doherty levelled it up again in the final minute of normal time.
It was an improved display from Hinckley following Saturday’s defeat. They showed more energy and creativity, notably through Jeremie Agholor who was outstanding all night, but a single point return from three away games so far is a real concern.
Joe Conneely made five changes from the weekend, and one of them saw ‘keeper Paul Hathaway drafted in on an emergency loan after Brandon Bache fell ill. He was quickly into the action, pushing aside Harry Phillips’s early effort at his near post.
Agholor was behind most of AFC’s good work, he created a chance for Cameron Moore who saw his effort come back off the base of a post.
He then fed James Reid with a neat pass whose shot was blocked by the legs of home keeper Rhys Bills, before Moore struck the other post, again benefitting from Agholor’s clever play.
But the home side took the lead just before the half hour mark, when Hardiman got in behind a static defence and the ball sat up nicely for him to lob a neat finish over the stranded Hathaway.
Hinckley enjoyed long spells of possession after the break, but they huffed and puffed a bit, rarely seeing sight of goal as they lacked quality in the final third.
Then, the introduction of Padmore with twenty minutes remaining changed the game. He forced Bills into action with a scrambling save before he levelled with a goal of real quality with six minutes to go. Hathaway’s free kick from halfway was cleared to the edge of the area, and Padmore’s volley was struck so sweetly to leave Bills rooted to the spot.
Within moments Padmore struck again, his run through the inside left channel took him to the edge of the area and his clever footwork created himself a chance that he curled home inside the far post.
Hinckley should have closed the game out from there, but the game had one more twist. AFC switched off from a set piece and the unmarked O’Doherty gleefully snapped up the chance to stab the ball home from close range to ensure a point apiece.
Heath Hayes: Rhys Bills, Harry Phillips. Helio Santos, Will Whieldon, Matt O’Doherty, Will Burns, Connor Ryan (Jay May 89), Todd Pryor, Nick Wellcomme, Joey Moore (Lewis Busher 20), Matty Hardiman (Liam Hallam 73). Subs not used: Adam Robinson, Dean Williams.
Goals: Matty Hardiman (30), Matt O’Doherty (90)
Hinckley: Paul Hathaway, Harry Walker-Donovan, Jack Beasley (Tarique Hunter 55), Ben Newport, Ethan Baynham (Luke Wilson 31), Joe McNulty, Lewis Rankin, James Reid (Lewis Padmore 71), Ryan Murphy (Alex Davies 65), Cameron Moore, Jeremie Agholor.
Goals: Lewis Padmore (83, 87)