Isaac Cooper’s late goal earned Hinckley AFC a place in the next round of the Emirates FA Cup with an impressive 2-1 win away at Worksop Town.
In front of a healthy season opening crowd of 435, of which a good number had made the trip north from Leicestershire, Cooper volleyed home Sam Agar’s cross eight minutes from time to secure progression to the preliminary round.
Earlier, Sean Williams had given step six Hinckley the lead, which they carried into the second half until Liam Greenfield equalised for the higher level hosts.
And with both sides starting to look towards a replay, Cooper netted late on to send Hinckley back down the M1 in jubilant mood.
Carl Abbott handed a Hinckley debut to George Bowerman up front, with returnees Bekir Halil, Dom Smith and Alex Morris all starting their first competitive games back at the club.
In what were relatively even opening stages, Hinckley had the better of the early chances. Cooper had a free kick turned around the post by home ‘keeper John Kennedy, before Bowerman was denied an open goal by a fine recovering challenge from Steve Wankiewicz.
And they were rewarded 18 minutes in. Lee Butler’s free kick was only partially cleared to Williams 20 yards out, who bent a fine curling effort into the far corner to break the deadlock.
While real goalmouth action was sparse, the rest of the first half was an entertaining spectacle with both sides needing no time to settle back into competitive action.
In fact, it was the 37th minutes before the next chance of note, and it fell the Tigers’ way as Michael Blythen set up Mitch Husbands – Haydn Whitcombe comfortably dealing with his deflected shot.
As Worksop finished the half on top, Whitcombe was called into action twice more before the break, first to deny Blythen’s downward header, before retreating to pluck Kyle Jordan’s attempted lob from under the bar.
The second half started in similar fashion, and Worksop equalised ten minutes after the break as Greenfield made good ground down the right before unleashing a strike from 20 yards which nestled in the back of the net.
Hinckley’s main threat of the afternoon came through Williams, who continued to be involved in attacking moves. First, he danced into the box to set up substitute Jake Healy, only for the debutant to be denied by Kennedy, before unleashing a powerful effort which Kennedy tipped over the bar.
At the other end, Jake Currie was denied by Morris before stinging Whitcombe’s hands with a fierce drive as both sides sought a winner going into the final ten minutes.
And it was a winner that fell Hinckley’s way eight minutes from time. Agar found space on the right to deliver a cross and the onrushing Cooper volleyed home to send the travelling contingent into raptures.
Agar came within inches of putting the tie to bed shortly after as he saw an effort strike the bar.
With Worksop searching for an equaliser, Hinckley defended resolutely in the final stages, with only Micah Bishop’s drag wide from 20 yards coming close to breaking their resolve.
And Hinckley held on to reach the preliminary round and ensure it is they who host Leicestershire rivals Aylestone Park in the next round in a fortnight’s time.
Worksop: John Kennedy, Jordan Hodder, Michael Trench, Matthew Thompson, Jack Barnett, Steve Wankiewicz, Liam Greenfield (Matt Parkin), Mitch Husbands, Michael Blythen (Jake Currie 56), Kyle Jordan (Micah Bishop 56), Steve Woolley. Substitutes: Leon Larcombe-Loftus, Connor Chappell, Aaron Pickersgill
Goal: Liam Greenfield (55)
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams, Alex Morris, Bekir Halil (Jake Healy 60), Dom Smith, Francino Francis, Lee Butler (Brad Rolston 83), Darious Darkin, George Bowerman (Sam Agar 46), Sean Williams, Isaac Cooper. Substitutes: Mitchell Tomlinson, Richard Munday, Mitchell Evans, Joe Haines
Goals: Sean Williams (18), Isaac Cooper (82)