Lewis Rankin marked his 100th Hinckley appearance with a goal as AFC ended OJM Black Country’s unbeaten home record with a 2-0 win at the Triplex.
The sides with the best attack and the best defence in the division cancelled each other out for much of the first half on a stodgy pitch that meant clear cut chances were few and far between.
But Hinckley stepped up a gear after the break as Rankin and Matt Dawson won it for the visitors on a memorable away day.
OJM shaded the first 45 minutes but were restricted mostly to half chances, albeit Kosheen Sappleton might feel he should have done better when he headed wide from eight yards.
The exception to that was two minutes before the break, when the home side’s leading scorer Taylor Homer bore down on goal but Matt Hill stuck out a vital right hand to maintain parity with a fine save.
That was made all the more crucial eight minutes after the break, when Hinckley broke the deadlock with their best move of the match. Jack Edwards held off a challenge in midfield and threaded a pinpoint through ball to Rankin, who took a touch before burying clinically to mark his landmark game with a crucial goal.
Home substitute Eshan Greer stabbed wide with his first touch when well-placed, but it was Hinckley who always looked the more likely in the second half thanks to an impressive defensive display led by the excellent Charlie Swingwood.
Tom Clapp made a fine save to deny Brady Middleton when he ran through on goal, before clutching Adam Keough’s sliced clearance to prevent what would have been an own goal.
Dawson then missed the chance to square to the unmarked Tom Weale but made up for that by lashing home the second goal with nine minutes to play from a loose ball in the box.
All that was left now was for Hill, in the final game of his month-long loan spell from Rugby Town, to secure a clean sheet and he did that in spectacular fashion, tipping Steven Leslie’s free-kick onto the post at full stretch with a minute to play.
The game ended on a sour note with both sides seeing a player sent off – OJM’s Adam Callinswood fouled Joe Cairns and booted the ball at him while he was on the floor for a straight red, while Dawson was shown a second booking for his reaction.
But it didn’t dampen the Hinckley fans’ cheers at full time as they celebrated an important seventh league win on the bounce.
OJM: Tom Clapp, Josh Mussell, Adam Callinswood, Steven Leslie, Stefan Cameron, Callum Nimmo (Adam Keough 53), Jordan Sangha, Jaber Ahmed, Kosheen Sappleton (Eshan Greer 61), Taylor Homer (Kyle Mosley 78), Reece Morris (Kofi Williams 71). Subs not used: Ibraheem Suliman.
Hinckley: Matt Hill, Matt Dawson, Danny Fraser, Preston Bitemo, Ky Green, Charlie Swingwood, Lewis Rankin (Harry Sawyer 69), Tom Weale (Joe Cairns 82), Brady Middleton, Declan Somel (Zaki Evans 88), Jack Edwards (Riley Davoile 76). Sub not used: Jack Beasley
Goals: Lewis Rankin (53), Matt Dawson (81)