Hinckley AFC 3-4 Belper United

Hinckley AFC surrendered a two-goal lead to lose their second straight match 4-3 against Belper United.

Hinckley were 2-0 and then 3-1 up after an action-packed and entertaining encounter, and still led as late as the 81st minute.

But Belper scored twice in four minutes late on to take all three points as they won for the sixth game out of seven, and Hinckley slipped to back-to-back losses.

Hinckley went into the game severely depleted. As well as missing Mikkel Hirst, Ben Newport, Ky Green and Mark Williams, they were also without influential duo Tom Weale and Lewis Rankin for the visit of Belper.

But the young side, with only Tyson Knight and Ryan Slinn in the matchday squad older than 24, started brightly against one of the league’s top sides.

And they made their impressive early start count after 14 minutes, when Dan Hoskins showed good strength to hold off his man and bend home a fine curling effort for his second in two games.

Belper always showed their prowess and stamped their authority as the half went on. They nearly levelled when Callum Martin cleared Richard Hanslow’s header off the line.

But while Belper had more of the play, Hinckley were always a threat on the break. From one counter, Slinn fed Drew Kear who drove narrowly wide on the angle.

The game continued at a frantic, end-to-end pace. Belper spurned a pair of half-chances before Hinckley took a clear cut one four minutes before half time. From another break, Jacob Dodds played three Hinckley players onside – and Murphy fed Jeremie Agholor, who didn’t even need the extra man Slinn as he found the bottom corner.

Hinckley looked set for a two-goal half time lead, especially when Hanslow, who had a goalless three-game spell at Hinckley in 2018, squandered a golden chance after a neat move.

But that changed in stoppage time and the complexion of the game changed with it. Dom Allen went down under a brush from Agholor in the box and Hinckley were bemused to see the referee point to the spot. Jack Tyson kept his cool as he sent Hill the wrong way from 12 yards.

The frantic pace continued after the break as both sides had chances aplenty and continued to play superb football.

And Hinckley wrestled control again eight minutes after the break. This was the goal of the match, a fine team move that ended with Kear squaring for Murphy to convert from close range.

AFC could even have wrapped the game up on the hour, but Slinn shot straight at Butcher when one-on-one after an excellent first touch.

But that missed chance proved a turning point. Instead of being 4-1 down, Belper were back in it immediately after. They brought on Ryan Baker and found joy through the substitute, though the next goal came solo from Martin Smyth, who weaved past two clumsy challenges before firing a fine strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

That gave renewed life to the visitors, and in truth there only looked like being one winner from that point. That said, chances were few and far between until the 81st minute when Hill made a smart initial save at his near post, but Hinckley’s defence were slow to react and Belper substitute Josh Wright slid home the rebound.

All of a sudden, Hinckley attacked again and had Joel Heely stretched an inch further from Edwards’ cross, it would have been AFC taking a 4-3 lead.

But instead, play went straight up the other end and after Hinckley were caught on the ball in their own half, the ball fell back to Smyth who fired home a similar strike to his first goal, sparking wild visiting celebrations as they moved back up to second in the table.

Hinckley: Matt Hill, Drew Kear, Callum Martin, Tyson Knight, Brandon Hallmark (Ben Kendrick 73), Ben Whitehead, Ryan Slinn, Dan Hoskins, Ryan Murphy (Joel Heely 65), Jack Edwards, Jeremie Agholor (Lewis Padmore 80). Subs not used: Kai Gibbs, Nick Brandish

Goals: Dan Hoskins (14), Jeremie Agholor (41), Ryan Murphy (53)

Belper: Fenwick Butcher, Dom Allen, Jacob Dodds, Jack Tyson, Jake Wholey, Niall Mather, Sam Boyall (Josh Wright 77), Martin Smyth, Richard Hanslow, James Ozmen (Callum Thompson 75), Ben Ollett (Ryan Baker 55)

Goals: Jack Tyson (45 pen), Martin Smyth (64, 84), Josh Wright (81)

Attendance: 169

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