Tom Weale’s penalty deep into time added on earned Hinckley victory over OJM Black Country as temperatures on the pitch reached boiling point on a bitterly cold afternoon.
With a close fought game poised at 2-2, Chandler Pegg was felled in the box, and after initially denying Hinckley the penalty, the referee changed his mind after taking advice from his assistant to the fury of the visitors.
Weale remained the coolest man around to drill home his spot kick and extend AFC’s winning sequence to five whilst ending Black Country’s own winning streak at ten.
It was a great fightback from Hinckley, who trailed to a spot kick at the end of the first half and had to show patience to break down a solid, well drilled Black Country defence.
But that persistence earned its reward as they turned it around well after the break to complete a fine win and secure three vital points.
Given the close proximity of the sides in the league table, it was no surprise there was little to choose between the teams in a competitive, if somewhat cagey first half. Hinckley almost took an early lead as Ryan Slinn’s corner was headed against the bar by Weale.
But chances were at a premium until the visitors went in front just before the half time whistle. Zaqib Hussain’s burst into the box was ended when he collided with Sam Walton, and Hussain scored the resultant penalty.
The second half was a much more open affair, but the visitors defended well and Hinckley’s attack struggled to create much before Joe Conneely changed it on the hour, bringing on Lewis Collins to good effect and AFC were soon level. It was a clever free kick from Weale who picked out the run in the box of Pegg and the leading scorer tucked home the chance from close range.
Collins was integral to the second goal, a typically surging run through the inside right channel saw him hold off his marker as he raced into the box before squaring unselfishly for Jack Edwards who’d made good ground from midfield to put his side in front.
The visitors responded well to going behind and got on level terms again with seven minutes remaining, a superb goal as Hussain curled home an exquisite free kick from fully 30 yards that gave Brandon Bache no chance.
But Hinckley weren’t to be denied victory. They finished the stronger and after Danny Fraser’s corner was scrambled to safety with a degree of difficulty, the game’s major talking point came in time added on. Pegg’s run into the box ended when he was clattered, it looked a clear penalty but referee Phillip Carey initially waved aside appeals before his assistant convinced him to change his mind. There was a long delay as Pegg was treated for his injury and the visitors protested the decision vociferously. The calmest man on the ground was Weale who took himself away from the controversy to compose himself and when the furore had died down, he slammed home to spot kick to spark huge celebrations amongst players and fans.
Hinckley: Brandon Bache, Sam Walton, Adam Barber, Jack Edwards, Joe McNulty, Ben Newport, Matt Dawson, Tom Weale, Chandler Pegg, Ryan Slinn (Lewis Collins 57), Danny Fraser. Subs not used: Jack Beasley, Harry Walker-Donovan, Jeremie Agholor, Isa Abraham
Goals: Chandler Pegg (64), Jack Edwards (78), Tom Weale (90+6 pen)
OJM: Raajan Singh Gill, Lucas Muckley, Louis Conway, Babucar Sauane, Stefan Cameron, Callum Nimmo, David Meese, Samuel Whitton, Jordan Crump (Seegu Njie 75), Zaqib Hussain (Bakai Manneh 89), Casey Collins. Subs not used: Sam Paddock, Mark Lawrence, Max LePoidevin
Goals: Zaqib Hussain (45 pen, 83)