A trio of first-half goals earned Hinckley AFC a fourth away league win in succession as they inflicted a 3-0 defeat on a Bilston Town side who started the day in second.
Tom Weale struck twice and Lewis Collins once as Hinckley recorded arguably their finest win of the season so far.
But it will be the clean sheet, against the league’s second leading scorers, that will please Joe Conneely most as his side bounce back from recent defeats in convincing fashion.
In an attritional battle throughout, Hinckley were well worth their victory on a heavy pitch that made it difficult for both sides to get the ball down and play.
And it meant that clearcut chances were few and far between for the most part. Joe McNulty cleared Lee Wood’s effort away from danger in the closest either side came in the opening 15 minutes.
But then Hinckley stamped their authority on the game with a brace of goals inside ten minutes. The first came via Weale, who capitalised as Bilston ‘keeper Brandon Hillback and a defender got into a mess and he slid into an empty net from a tight angle.
Seven minutes later, Collins doubled that lead with a clever, deft header from Lewis Rankin’s fine set piece delivery.
Bilston came from 2-0 down to win in midweek, and with Hinckley seeking a first clean sheet in over two months, the game wasn’t over just yet.
The hosts nearly responded through Taryll Davis but he nodded over from a corner, but Hinckley strengthened their grip on the scoreline just before the interval. They countered quickly, with Weale left in space down the channel to cut inside the recovering Davis and fire a clinical finish beyond Hillback.
The second period was a case of Hinckley managing the game and their defence, marshalled superbly by McNulty, and midfield of Jack Edwards and Ben Newport did it excellently.
They ensured ‘keeper Brandon Bache was rarely called upon, only having to make one save all half through a routine stop from Kie Houlihan’s speculative strike. That, along with Ben Perks’ glancing header wide, was as close as they came.
Indeed, if another goal was to come, it was more likely to be from the visitors. Hillback pushed aside Ben Whitehead’s strike, before Whitehead failed to connect with Rankin’s corner inside the six-yard box when any touch would have made it 4-0.
Fellow substitute Chandler Pegg will feel he should have got on the scoresheet too, seeing a fourth goal ruled out for a foul and then blazing over when clean through.
But after recent defeats, this was a confidence-boosting win for AFC who now have a blank midweek to prepare for the visit of Droitwich Spa on Saturday.
Bilston: Brandon Hillback, Taryll Davis (Jai Berry 56), Jake Short, Mitchell Evans, Ben Perks, Angelo Franco, Ronan Sheehan (Kie Houlihan 68), Lee Wood (Soms Sibanda 59), Dan Westwood, Eesa Sawyers, Ethan Pearce (Oliver Round 34). Sub not used: Aaron Weston.
Hinckley: Brandon Bache, Matt Dawson, Adam Barber, Jack Edwards, Joe McNulty, Ben Newport, Harry Walker-Donovan (Ben Whitehead 52), Tom Weale (Fortune Sibanda 81), Lewis Collins, Lewis Rankin (Chandler Pegg 66), Danny Fraser. Subs not used: Isa Abraham, Ben Birch
Goals: Tom Weale (17, 41), Lewis Collins (24)