Hinckley withstood the oppressive conditions and grafted their way to a valuable victory as Tom Weale’s spot kick saw them come from behind to grab the points at Wednesfield.
Jay Holdcroft had given the hosts a first half lead that Matt Dawson levelled, before Weale kept his cool on a sweltering afternoon to convert his penalty after Danny Fraser was fouled early in the second half.
Any points gained at Wednesfield are always hard earned – this was no exception and proved a measure of Hinckley’s progress in the last year. A little over 12 months ago, AFC lost the corresponding fixture in rather tame fashion, but this side are more streetwise and capable of earning victories when they cannot deploy their passing game as they would like.
And though the scoreline was narrow, it was a win Hinckley deserved. They could have been two up early on, Weale’s superb pass picked out Brady Middleton who took the ball around the ‘keeper but was forced too wide to get his shot on target, before Middleton again bore down on goal but Kieran Hart in the home goal stood up well to block.
Wednesfield took the lead on 20 minutes, Ronan Sheehan’s surging run through midfield opened Hinckley up and when the loose ball broke to Holdcroft, he fired home from the edge of the area.
After a drinks break, the game became scrappy. Hinckley needed some inspiration and, not for the first time, Dawson provided it. A typical run saw him cut in from the right but he appeared to be running up a blind alley in a crowded goalmouth before he squeezed his shot home inside the near post to equalise.
Wednesfield replaced their ‘keeper at the break and the new custodian, Craig Pain, was quickly picking the ball out of his net. Within a minute of the re-start, Danny Fraser, who withstood a few heavy tackles throughout the afternoon, was tripped in the area and the outstanding Weale tucked home the penalty to put Hinckley in front.
The visitors looked to increase their lead but Pain did well to save from Middleton and Lewis Rankin in quick succession.
But as the players tired in the stifling heat, the game became scrappy and bad tempered. Chances were limited as Sam Walton and Calum Flanagan formed a solid defensive partnership to frustrate the home side, who failed to trouble Finn Osborn as AFC secured the points.
Wednesfield: Keiran Hart (Craig Pain 46), Joe Prosser, Jake Griffiths (Alex Arrowsmith 69), Nathan Walker, Daniel Turton, Matthew Martin, Tony Agnello (Mitchell Bradford 56), Kie Houlihan, Jay Holdcroft, Dimitri Dunkley (Dominic Latham 82), Ronan Sheehan (Rhyce Brown 82).
Goal: Jay Holdcroft (20)
Hinckley: Finn Osborn, Matt Dawson, Adam Barber, Declan Somel (Josh Clews 60), Calum Flanagan, Sam Walton, Lewis Rankin (Harry Walker-Donovan 72), Tom Weale (Jeremie Agholor 82), Brady Middleton, Jack Edwards, Danny Fraser. Subs not used: Jack Beasley, Joe McNulty.
Goals: Matt Dawson (39), Tom Weale (47)