Hinckley AFC ended 2022 in style by hitting seven in a ten-goal thriller with Nuneaton Griff at Kirkby Road.
Hinckley’s response to losing against Coton Green last time out was emphatic as they scored three times in the first half and four in the second to move up to third in the table.
Isa Abraham marked his return to the starting eleven with a brace, while Chandler Pegg also netted twice as AFC shared the goals among five different scorers.
They took a little time to settle though, and their start to the derby was a little error-ridden. Brandon Bache saved from both Reece Williams and Ross Proudlock as Griff tried to take advantage of loose passes and loose defending.
But once Hinckley broke the deadlock midway through the half, there was no looking back. The opener came courtesy of a fine solo goal from Abraham, who cut inside past his man and buried a fine finish home via the inside of the post.
Abraham was a constant menace and turned provider for the second – he was brought down in the box when running through on goal, and Tom Weale converted the spot kick.
Ever-improving during the half, Hinckley were now in control and added a third before the break with a superb team move. Weale’s switch of play found Pegg, who squared across goal for the onrushing Lewis Collins to tap home from close range.
Griff player-manager, and former Hinckley favourite, Sam Belcher brought himself on at half-time and had an immediate impact when he prodded home to finish off a quick counter attack.
But any hope they had of staging a comeback was quickly extinguished as a spell of three goals in ten minutes put the game beyond doubt.
Pegg headed home Jack Edwards’ cross, then roles were reversed as Pegg set up Edwards to net the fifth and Abraham grabbed his second with a carbon copy of his first before the hour mark.
Now Hinckley were enjoying themselves on the rainy evening and Matt Dawson twice went close to scoring his first Hinckley goal before Pegg scored the seventh, slamming home the rebound after Dale O’Donnell could only parry Abraham’s shot.
Both Pegg and Abraham came close to their hat-tricks from the same Harry Walker-Donovan cross, but it was Belcher who grabbed a treble with a pair of fine free kicks late – first a thumping finish after a neat interchange with Chanda Mulenga, before scoring direct from 20 yards to complete his hat-trick.
Not that that would take the gloss away from Hinckley’s win, with AFC’s night made even better by the return of Ky Green as a late substitute after nearly 18 months out with injury that capped a fine way to finish 2022.
Hinckley: Brandon Bache, Matt Dawson, Danny Fraser, Jack Edwards (Fortune Sibanda 70), Luke Wilson (Jack Beasley 80), Sam Walton (Ky Green 80), Chandler Pegg, Tom Weale, Isa Abraham, Lewis Rankin (Harry Walker-Donovan 61), Lewis Collins (Ben Newport 46).
Goals: Isa Abraham (22, 59), Tom Weale (33 pen), Lewis Collins (44), Chandler Pegg (50, 70), Jack Edwards (55).
Nuneaton: Dale O’Donnell, Ryan Aston (Luke Garner 38), Ruben Wade (Liam Cross 73), Brady Floyd (Lewis Commins 65), Corey Alcock, Jack Bent, Ethan Richardson, Ross Proudlock, Scott Smith (Chanda Mulenga 46), Toby Bartram (Sam Belcher 46), Reece Williams.
Goals: Sam Belcher (48, 82, 86).