Hinckley AFC made it four wins on the bounce with a 5-2 come-from-behind success at AFC Bridgnorth.
After Monday’s 9-0 victory over Coventry Copsewood, Hinckley had to show qualities of a different kind at Crown Meadow as they came from behind on a dull afternoon made darker by a partial floodlight failure after half time.
They still played good football at times despite a difficult surface, but also benefitted from three set-piece goals including two from Tom Weale as they cemented their place in the top five.
Despite the end result, Bridgnorth started the brighter and the lively Craig Knowles was first snuffed out by Joe McNulty in the first minute, before shooting wide with a good chance when a bobble meant he misconnected.
And the home side got their reward after seven minutes when a left wing corner caused Hinckley problems. Alec Hill sliced his punch and Danny Fraser sliced his goalline clearance as the ball rebounded into the back of the net.
Hinckley’s response was good, and they soon started to assert their authority. Lewis Rankin struck a free-kick wide while Chandler Pegg was denied in a trio of chances by a combination of defender and goalkeeper Ben Lees.
After scoring five on Monday, Pegg then became provider for the equaliser. His driving run into the box was ended by Karl Griffiths’ tackle from behind, and Weale kept his cool from 12 yards to level.
Pegg then forced Lees into a fine fingertip save with a smart header, but the goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Hinckley taking the lead moments later. In the move of the match, Harry Walker-Donovan’s ball was chested down by Pegg, for Rankin to volley a crisp first-time finish past the helpless ‘keeper.
Hinckley were the brighter at this stage, but when Rankin stood over a free-kick four minutes into the second period, half of the floodlights went out and the rest of the match was played in partial gloom.
There was enough light coming from the remaining bulbs to continue playing, and Hinckley made that count when Weale’s wide free kick, after Pegg was fouled, took a glance on its way into the far corner to strengthen Hinckley’s lead.
Hill comfortably held Oscar Searle’s strike from range as Bridgnorth responded, but Hinckley secured the points on the hour with another excellent goal. This one was a solo from Pegg, who received Weale’s pass, turned his man and shot a rasping finish into the top corner with Lees rooted to the spot.
Bridgnorth didn’t lie down, and pulled one back six minutes later when Griffiths converted Connor Parker’s cross at the far post.
But Hinckley didn’t let their hosts get closer than that and, after Lees denied Pegg again, they added a fifth when substitute Ryan Slinn’s cross deceived the ‘keeper, who, backpedalling, could only parry it further in.
That completed a successive fifth away league win for Hinckley, who return to Kirkby Road next weekend to welcome OJM Black Country in the battle of the league’s two leading goalscorers.
Bridgnorth: Ben Lees, Connor Parker, George Marsh, Ryan Hadley, Anwar Sadat (Jack Luckett 63), Harry Walker, Karl Griffiths, Oscar Searle, Tyrone Anthony (Levi Kyeremeh 81), Shaquille Ologitere (Charlie Davies 63), Craig Knowles. Subs not used: Scott Becker, Tom Whitney.
Goals: Danny Fraser (7 OG), Karl Griffiths (67).
Hinckley: Alec Hill, Matt Dawson, Sam Walton, Jack Edwards (Fortune Sibanda 84), Joe McNulty, Ben Newport, Harry Walker-Donovan, Tom Weale, Chandler Pegg (Lewis Padmore 77), Lewis Rankin (Ryan Slinn 63), Danny Fraser (Jeremie Agholor 80). Subs not used: Luke Wilson.
Goals: Tom Weale (33 pen, 53), Lewis Rankin (37), Chandler Pegg (60), Ryan Slinn (75).