Match Preview: Smethwick Rangers (h)

Hinckley AFC play a first home game in a month on Saturday against a Smethwick Rangers side hot off the back of their best result of the season so far.

AFC will look to maintain their lead at the summit of Division One with a return to Kirkby Road, after their eight-game winning streak was ended by Ingles’ late goal in the Leicestershire Senior Cup in midweek.

New signing Charlie Swingwood could make a Hinckley debut while AFC are also hopeful that Zaki Evans, Jack Edwards and Ky Green will be fit again. Harry Walker-Donovan will be assessed but Isa Abraham’s hamstring continues to cause him issues.

The opposition

Smethwick were bottom of the table and on a rotten run of 13 defeats in 14 games until last week, when they shocked third-placed Droitwich Spa with a 3-1 victory in the first game of their new groundshare at Boldmere St Michaels. Among their other wins was an impressive success over Stapenhill.

That win over Droitwich, as they came from behind to score three second-half goals, lifted them off the bottom and they are now just two points from safety. Jahmaal McIntosh-McMahon scored in that game to take him to five for the season – he is their leading scorer so far.

Former Hinckley and Tamworth defender Francino Francis was appointed as their new manager earlier this season.

Previous meetings

The away side were victorious in both games last season – with Smethwick taking the spoils at Kirkby Road 3-0 despite Hinckley hitting the woodwork six times. AFC hit back on the final day of the regular season with a 4-0 win at Smethwick’s former ground at The Beeches.

From the dressing room

“We’ve seen a bit of them and know what to expect. They’ll be full of confidence after a massive result to beat Droitwich last week and are used to a 3G pitch so will be comfortable on our surface. It will be tough and we’ll have to work hard, but whatever the circumstances our lads work hard. We’ve seen that no end this season. It’s all about what we do, and if we do things properly we’ll hopefully pick up three points and keep that cushion.”

Joe Conneely

Key information

We will be holding a collection day for the Salvation Army’s Christmas appeal at the match. Simply take donations to the club shop at any point during the matchday. Full details can be found here.

Adults: £6

Concessions: £4

Under 16s: £2 (FREE with HAFC Junior membership card)

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