Smethwick Rangers completed a classic smash and grab raid with a 3-0 win against a Hinckley side who have slumped to back to back home defeats inside a week.
Rangers took the lead towards the end of the first half and then weathered almost relentless home pressure after the break, riding their luck at times as AFC struck the woodwork on five occasions, before sealing the points with two late goals on the counter.
The final scoreline was harsh on Joe Conneely’s men. They were poor in the first half before showing much more positive intent after the interval, but couldn’t find a breakthrough and Rangers’ finishing from their limited chances was clinical.
It was a drab, grey afternoon at Kirkby Road and the first half reflected the conditions. There was little to excite the crowd until Smethwick took the lead seven minutes before the break when Dylan Green latched onto Ben Birch’s sliced clearance before applying a finish from an acute angle.
AFC upped the tempo after the break but their luck was out a minute in when Jack Edwards’ superbly struck overhead kick crashed back off the bar.
That set the tone for what remained of the game. Luke Wilson drilled a long range free kick against a post and Edwards saw his shot deflected onto the bar.
When Hinckley did find the target, visiting ‘keeper Lewis Riley was in excellent form as he beat away Lewis Collins’ powerful shot before saving from Joe Cairns at full stretch.
And as Hinckley continued on the offensive and struck the outside of a post amid a goalmouth scramble, you began to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.
That feeling was confirmed when Rangers added a second with five minutes remaining. In their desperation to salvage something from the game, AFC were left short defensively and a quick counter attack ended with the unmarked Lucas Edmonds scoring on the far post.
In time added on, Cairns’ shot clipped the bar again before the visitors added a third through a superb solo effort from Green. He ran from inside his own half and produced a couple of tricks to beat a despairing defence and grab his second of the game.
That rounded off a real blow for Hinckley who have to wait a fortnight to undo the damage to their league form with three successive cup games now on the horizon.
Hinckley: Brandon Bache, Matt Dawson, Harry Walker-Donovan, Ben Birch, Luke Wilson, Adam Barber, Chris Camwell (Fortune Sibanda 19), Lewis Collins (Lewis Padmore 65), Chandler Pegg (Tom Weale 71), Lewis Rankin (Joe Cairns 71), Jack Edwards. Sub not used: Ben Whitehead
Smethwick: Lewis Riley, Jonathon Millinchip, Joseph Lowe, Zaki Kamali, Joel Powell, Jordan Ambris, Fadel Traore (Sergio Gomes 77), Joshua Baloucoune, Constantin Calmis (Junior Enongene 45) [Lucas Edmonds 71], Adam Nazir, Dylan Green. Sub not used: Levi Henderson