Bardon Hill 1-0 Hinckley AFC
A solitary headed goal from Andy Fell midway through the first half was the only difference as Hinckley AFC were narrowly edged out by Bardon Hill in the Jelson Homes Senior Cup Final.
Fell capitalised on slack defending after 24 minutes to score the only goal of the game as the East Midlands Counties League title chasers lifted the trophy at Holmes Park.
But Hinckley can be proud of their dominant second half performance in which only a series of fine saves from Bardon ‘keeper Chris Martin prevented AFC scoring the goal they deserved to at least take the game into extra time.
The defeat brings to an end Hinckley’s 27 match unbeaten run, which will go down in history as part of the club’s inaugural season and will take some beating.
Carl Abbott made three changes to the Hinckley side that beat Studley 5-2 on Saturday, with Sam Arnold, Avun Jephcott and Ross Clarke replacing Jack Hartopp, Mitchell Tomlinson and Justin Nisbett.
And it was Abbott’s side that started the brighter of the two; Dom Smith heading wide from Nathan Walker’s corner before Walker himself could only slice wide from the edge of the box as the ball took a nasty bobble.
Then, Luke Richards nearly capitalised on a poor backpass from Ryan Walker, but the angle was just too tight for the AFC forward and his shot drifted narrowly wide.
Bardon came into the game more as the half wore on, and after 20 minutes Rich Hanslow almost made the most of Jephcott’s careless pass, but Arnold got a strong palm to his shot.
After 24 minutes, Bardon were awarded a corner that Hinckley hotly contested, and it was to prove costly. From it, Arnold was powerless to prevent Fell escaping his marker and converting his free header from eight yards.
Richards was then forced off through injury after half an hour, Nisbett his replacement.
Martin was tested for the first time through Clarke’s 20 yard low drive, before he dealt well with Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell’s long range effort that bounced just before reaching him.
Hinckley came out fighting in the second half, and in the first minute of it Adaggio met Clarke-O’Connell’s pinpoint cross, only to see his goalbound header denied by Martin’s fingertip save.
Ten minutes later, Adaggio and Walker saw shots superbly blocked, and after Clarke-O’Connell did brilliantly to work his way into a shooting position he was denied by Martin.
As he hit his shot, though, Clarke-O’Connell went down with a knee injury and he was carried off immediately after, to be replaced by Isaac Cooper. At the same time, Rob Millington came on for Ross Clarke.
On the hour, Hinckley felt they should have had a penalty when Cooper’s cross was blocked by an arm, but their strong penalty appeals were waved away by the evening’s match officials.
Hinckley continued to have the better of the game, and Arnold hardly touched the ball in the second half. Martin’s best stop of the night was to follow as he prevented Adaggio’s header from nestling in the far corner.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, AFC piled on the pressure and could have equalised when JJ Melligan, who controlled the second half expertly, crossed for Adaggio to flick over the bar.
In the dying stages, Nisbett’s clever reverse pass fell to Millington, who couldn’t keep his first time shot down and it flew narrowly over.
In stoppage time, Hinckley had one final chance as Cooper’s long throw was launched into the box and after Alex Morris won the initial header, Bardon cleared off the line to secure their victory.
Hinckley now turn their attention to the final game of their inaugural season on Saturday, when Southam United visit St John’s Park, and the presentation evening that follows it.
Bardon: Chris Martin, Ryan Walker, Louis Keenan, Josh Eggington, Jack Coulson, Carl Slater, Phil Wheildon (Steve Hart 46), Ryan Pearce, Rich Hanslow, Andy Fell, Steve Armson. Subs not used: Ryan Pirrie, Jordan Vilums.
Goal: Andy Fell (24)
Hinckley: Sam Arnold, Danny Kavanagh, Avun Jephcott, Dom Smith, Alex Morris, Nathan Walker, JJ Melligan, Ross Clarke (Rob Millington 56), Marco Adaggio, Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell (Isaac Cooper 56), Luke Richards (Justin Nisbett 31). Subs not used: Jack Hartopp, Michael Healy