Bromsgrove Sporting 2-3 Hinckley AFC
Four goals in a thrilling final fifteen minutes at The Victoria Ground saw Hinckley AFC come from behind to record a 3-2 victory at Bromsgrove Sporting.
After a largely uneventful first 75 minutes, a crowd of 526, including a very healthy following from Leicestershire, saw Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell’s close range strike and Jake Bedford’s own goal overturn Reece Hewitt’s first half penalty for the hosts.
Sporting levelled through Lewis Clarke’s looping header with four minutes to go, but Dom Smith stabbed home just a minute later to send the visiting supporters into raptures behind the goal.
Hinckley made one change to the side that made a dramatic late comeback at Bolehall Swifts on Tuesday, with Alex Morris replacing Jordan Rushton.
The game was devoid of goalmouth action for the majority, not helped as a spectacle by the stiff breeze that blew across the ground throughout.
Sporting used the slope to their advantage in the first half, and went close after nine minutes when Chris Conway drilled into the side netting.
Hinckley were dealt a blow when top scorer Marco Adaggio was forced off with injury after eleven minutes; Michael Healy his replacement.
And midway through the first half the deadlock was broken; Hewitt converting the penalty after Nathan Walker’s foul in the box.
Shortly after, Josh McKenzie’s shot was deflected narrowly wide of Sam Arnold’s far post as the hosts pushed for a second.
For Hinckley, Luke Richards dragged a twenty yard shot wide after beating Sam Wills, before the same player’s corner was headed over by Smith in first half stoppage time.
Carl Abbott brought Clarke-O’Connell and Justin Nisbett into the fray in the early stages of the second half, and their pace caused Sporting problems as it was Hinckley’s turn to take advantage of the slope.
But although Hinckley had Bromsgrove camped in their own half for long spells, the hosts defended resolutely and until the last quarter of an hour AFC’s chances were limited.
Bromsgrove had the first opportunity of the second period, but Conway’s shot was deflected wide after neat build up play involving McKenzie.
Ross Clarke then fizzed a long range effort wide of Bedford’s right hand post, while at the other end, Will Tibbets’ shot from an acute angle was saved by Arnold at his near post.
There were eleven minutes remaining when Hinckley equalised. After JJ Melligan, influential in Hinckley’s midfield, took a quick goal kick, Hinckley broke forward at pace. Nisbett ran with the ball on the left, and squared for Clarke-O’Connell to shoot between Bedford’s legs from twelve yards.
And just a minute later the game had turned on its head. Isaac Cooper’s long throw caused pandemonium in the Bromsgrove box, and after Bedford misjudged he could only palm the ball into his own net.
But Bromsgrove levelled again on 86 minutes. Melligan brought down Hewitt as Bromsgrove broke forward, and from Sean Brain’s resulting free kick Lewis Clarke’s far post header looped into the corner.
The drama didn’t end there, though, and just a minute later Ross Clarke’s free kick sailed straight through a static Bromsgrove defence, and Smith prodded home from inside the six yard box to spark jubilation amongst the visiting supporters, players and management alike.
Hinckley safely negotiated the five minutes of stoppage time without a scare, and in doing so returned to winning ways and extended their unbeaten run to 24. They will look to make it a quarter of a century at league leaders Highgate United in a fortnight.
Bromsgrove: Jake Bedford, Chris Duggan, Danny Morris, Sam Wills (Lewis Clarke 54), Scott Smith, Craig Jones, Will Tibbets, Reece Hewitt, Chris Conway (Ross Dempster 75), Josh McKenzie, Jack Wilson (Sean Brain 57). Subs not used: Simon Fitter, Jozsef Jakab.
Goals: Reece Hewitt (24 pen), Lewis Clarke (86).
Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Mitchell Tomlinson, Isaac Cooper, Dom Smith, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker (Justin Nisbett 46), JJ Melligan, Ross Clarke, Rob Millington, Marco Adaggio (Michael Healy 11), Luke Richards (Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell 54). Subs not used: Danny Kavanagh, Avun Jephcott.
Goals: Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell (79), Jake Bedford (81 OG), Dom Smith (87).