Match Preview: Cradley Town (h)

A fourth straight win is Hinckley AFC’s target when they welcome Cradley Town to Kirkby Road for a top of the table clash on Saturday.

AFC progressed through a thrilling Leicestershire Senior Cup tie with a 5-3 win over Birstall United on Monday to back up victories over Sutton United and Paget Rangers.

They will now look to maintain that form with a return to league action for the visit of Cradley – and with 14 goals in the last two meetings between these sides plenty of action is almost guaranteed.

The opposition

After facing a relegation battle at the turn of the year last season, Cradley’s 2023 saw them initially drag themselves away from the drop zone in the second half of last season, before continuing that impressive form by sitting in third place this time around.

They have won nine, drawn three and lost three of their opening 15 games, giving them 30 points as they sit level with Hinckley and just one back from leaders Droitwich Spa.

After losing four games in a row in all competitions at the end of August, the Hammers have gone on a nine-match unbeaten run since then, culminating in a thumping 10-0 win over AFC Bridgnorth a fortnight ago in their last game. Jordan Crump netted a hat-trick in that match to take him to six goals in five games since joining from Dudley Town. Chris Bladen also has six for the season.

Previous meetings

Hinckley looked to be ending Cradley’s unbeaten run in the reverse fixture last month, leading 4-1 with 15 minutes to play at Beeches View Avenue. But the home team fought back, taking advantage of Hinckley having just one fit outfield substitute to salvage a 4-4 draw.

Hinckley won both meetings between the sides last term, including a last gasp 1-0 win at Kirkby Road courtesy of Harry Walker-Donovan.

From the dressing room

“We do owe them one, but they’re confident and will think they can come here and win. They’ll know what we’re good at and what we’re not so good at.

It’s a rollercoaster with us, the amount of goals we’ve scored is a scary statistic but we don’t want to concede as many as we are. We bang on about keeping clean sheets but this is the way we’ve been for three or four seasons so we’ve just got to keep outscoring teams, getting the ball forward quickly, getting our better players on the ball. It’ll be the same against Cradley in what will be a tough fixture.”

Key information

The club will be holding a food collection day at the match with all donations going towards Hinckley Community Fridge. More information can be found here.

Adults: £6

Concessions: £4

Under 16s: £2 (FREE with Hinckley AFC Junior Membership card)

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