Atherstone Town 1-2 Hinckley AFC
Hinckley AFC recorded their third league win in four matches as they won 2-1 at ten man Atherstone Town.
It was by no means a classic on a difficult pitch, but Hinckley grafted out a win after The Adders were reduced to ten men half an hour in.
The second half saw both sides score a penalty: Hinckley through Matt Gardner and Atherstone through Liam Bailey, before a superb effort from Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell won the game for the visitors.
Hinckley made just one change to the side that beat Cadbury Athletic last week: Simon Johnson replaced JJ Melligan, who was on the substitutes bench after missing Tuesday’s game at Alvechurch through injury.
And it was Hinckley who started the stronger; Alex Morris saw his header saved, before Gardner shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Then, Luke Richards did well to get to the corner of the box, but he scuffed his shot and Phil Smith easily gathered.
Atherstone were reduced to ten men on the half hour mark, when ex Hinckley defender Greg Webb was dismissed for an off the ball incident.
Hinckley ‘keeper Sam Arnold was first called into action after 40 minutes, pulling off a fingertip save from a close range header.
In hazy sunshine mixed with some occasional drizzle, Hinckley were kicking up the slight slope in the second half, but they didn’t have to wait long for a goal.
Gardner chested the ball down in the box after fifty minutes, but he was bundled over. The same player dusted himself down to take the spot kick, which Smith saved.
However, Smith was adjudged to have left his line, and with the retake Gardner made sure that no third effort was needed, slamming the ball into the top corner.
Hinckley could have doubled their lead shortly after, but after Justin Nisbett broke, his ball was slightly too heavy for Gardner, who attempted to take the ball around Smith, but the ‘keeper claimed at his feet.
Craig Madden could have equalised for the hosts when a stray pass saw him get in behind the Hinckley back line, but from a tight angle his shot was beaten away by Arnold.
Gardner saw a second disallowed for offside before Atherstone did equalise after 63 minutes. Josh Nash burst into the box, before going over under a challenge from Jordan Rushton. Bailey converted the penalty, sending Arnold the wrong way.
On as a second half substitute, Clarke-O’Connell should have given Hinckley the lead again when his far post header hit the side netting, but he more than made up for that miss just a minute later with a carbon copy of his goal at Alvechurch on Tuesday.
Cutting in from the left flank after beating two defenders, he curled a right footed shot from the edge of the box into Smith’s far corner to send the travelling Hinckley fans into delirium.
Hinckley were denied a third with ten minutes remaining, when Clarke-O’Connell set up Gardner eight yards out. But after beating Smith, his shot was headed off the line by Matty Sylvester.
Atherstone never troubled Arnold afterwards, and Hinckley leapfrogged their hosts in the league table, moving up to twelfth.
Atherstone: Phil Smith, Lewis Gorle, Darren Eggleton (Craig Madden 29), Matty Sylvester, Ashley Gray, Lee Chapman, Greg Webb, Liam Bailey, Lloyd Storey, Josh Nash, Andy Culver (Scott Warr 69). Sub not used: Christian Mullings.
Goal: Liam Bailey (63, pen)
Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Mitchell Tomlinson, Isaac Cooper, Jordan Rushton, Alex Morris, Avun Jephcott, Simon Johnson (JJ Melligan 59), Robbie Millington, Matt Gardner, Justin Nisbett, Luke Richards (Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell 59). Subs not used: Dominic Oliver, Nathan Walker, James Bennett-Tindall
Goals: Matt Gardner (50, pen), Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell (69)