Hinckley AFC 2-2 Pilkington XXX

Hinckley AFC 2-2 Pilkington XXX

Hinckley AFC’s long winning streak is over after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Pilkington XXX at St John’s Park.

AFC were twice pegged back by a spirited Pilks outfit, who responded immediately to Luke Richards’ opener through Odane Barnes.

JJ Melligan restored Hinckley’s lead from the penalty spot shortly before half time, but Anthony Fletcher’s goal just after the hour mark meant that the visitors headed home with a point despite late Hinckley pressure as the hosts found Pilks keeper Reece Francis in inspired form.

Hinckley made two changes to the side that beat Uttoxeter Town last week, with Isaac Cooper and Jordan Rushton replacing Avun Jephcott and Dominic Smith.

Goalmouth action was limited early on, and it took until midway through the first half for either goalkeeper to be tested; Sam Arnold keeping out Jacob Snape’s powerful effort at his near post.

On the half hour, Marco Adaggio was thwarted by Francis for the first time of the afternoon when the Pilks’ keeper blocked his shot on the turn.

But Hinckley weren’t to be denied for much longer, and they took the lead just a minute later. A good move down the right involving Adaggio and JJ Melligan saw the former’s deep cross headed in off the post by Richards.

The visitors weren’t behind for long though, and Craig Oldfield’s scuffed shot fell perfectly for Barnes to head home and level affairs a minute later.

Hinckley then felt they should have had a penalty when Rob Millington went down in the box, but referee Jamie Tiff waved away the protests.

A minute before half time, though, and Hinckley did have a spot kick. Melligan’s cross was handled by Sam Hawker, and the AFC skipper converted the penalty himself, sending Francis the wrong way from the spot.

Francis then saved Adaggio’s fifteen yard poke as Hinckley finished the half the stronger.

Early in the second half, Isaac Cooper set up Nathan Walker, but Francis again denied Hinckley.

Francis’ exploits at one end proved crucial at the other after 62 minutes, when Snape’s low cross was poorly defended, and Fletcher capitalised by tapping home at the far post.

Hinckley were far from their best, but still had several opportunities to win the game late on, but a combination of good goalkeeping and bad luck denied them. First, Adaggio got in behind but saw his shot saved, before JJ Melligan hit the bar from substitute Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell’s cross.

Then, Michael Healy squared for Walker, but Francis was out quickly, before Francis was finally beaten by Adaggio, only for Kieran McCalla to clear off the line.

Snape flicked narrowly wide on a rare Pilkington break late on, but Hinckley still pressed for a winner, and Adaggio’s near post flick brought a good reflex save from Francis.

Pilkington played the last three minutes of the match with ten men, after Hawker was dismissed for a second booking, and despite not being able to find a winner, Hinckley’s unbeaten run extends to fourteen games.

Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Michael Williams, Isaac Cooper, Jordan Rushton, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker, JJ Melligan, Ross Clarke (Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell 57), Rob Millington (Michael Healy 70), Marco Adaggio, Luke Richards (Charlie Anagho-Ntamark 57). Subs not used: Jack Hartopp, Oli Basham

Goals: Luke Richards (33), JJ Melligan (44 pen).

Pilkington: Reece Francis, Phil Chesters, Sam Hawker, Matt Stirzaker (Jake Wicketts 73), Kieran McCalla, Max Loveridge, Craig Oldfield, Jamel Wilson (Jack Gauntlett 76), Jacob Snape, Odane Barnes (Jake Harvey 88), Anthony Fletcher. Sub not used: Chad Barrett.

Goals: Odane Barnes (34), Anthony Fletcher (62).

Attendance: 191

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