Coventry United 2-2 Hinckley AFC
Hinckley AFC became only the second team this season to take league points from Coventry United in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Sphinx Drive.
The table toppers had won nineteen of their previous twenty games, but fell behind to Ryan Seal’s opener, only for Callum Burgess to equalise shortly after.
Hinckley looked to have won it when Sean Williams scored a stunning goal six minutes from time, but even though Tom Cross saved a penalty from Richard Blythe, the same player popped up in stoppage time to bundle home and secure his side a point.
Carl Abbott made just two changes to the side that beat AEI Rugby on Tuesday evening. Cross and Lee Thomas replaced Sam Arnold and Ray Facey in the starting line up, meaning Greg Pearson continued at centre back.
It was the home side who had the better of the opening ten minutes, although they didn’t trouble Cross on his return to the Hinckley goal.
But after the first ten minutes, Hinckley had the better of the half and had the first half-chance when Sam Agar’s cross was just out of Javia Roberts’ reach.
Agar was involved again minutes later, neatly setting up Thomas on the overlap, but Thomas’ low cross bobbled, forcing Roberts to hesitate and meaning he scuffed a weak shot straight at David Allen.
Then came United’s first chance of the afternoon. They cleared a Hinckley corner and broke forward, but after being set up by Matt Brown, Josh O’Grady couldn’t make the most of the chance and Cross snuffed out his effort.
Allen then had to be alert to deny Seal, before Hinckley took the lead midway through the half. Seal expertly timed his run to beat the offside trap and latch onto Darious Darkin’s tremendous through ball, coolly finishing one on one to put his side ahead.
Six minutes later, Hinckley thought they had doubled their lead when Agar headed home a corner, but it was ruled that Lee Butler’s delivery went out of play.
And three minutes later the hosts levelled against the run of play. Hinckley failed to deal with O’Grady’s left wing corner, and the unmarked Burgess curled a looping effort inside the far post.
Coventry then finished the half strongly, Ross Briscoe wasting a free header six yards out, before O’Grady saw his weak effort comfortably held by Cross.
But where Hinckley had the better of the first half, Coventry had the better of the second. Brown saw a goal disallowed for offside a minute into it, before Tom Glasscoe drilled high and wide from the edge of the box and Brown’s attempted acrobatic effort drifted harmlessly wide.
Cross then did well to beat away Brown’s strike, and Blythe’s effort was cleared off the line by Thomas as Coventry sought to take the lead for the first time.
As the game entered its last fifteen minutes, Hinckley started to create chances of their own. Two substitutes combined as Marcus Jackson fed Luke Richards, but the skipper could only drill into the side netting.
Hinckley’s task was then made more difficult with ten minutes left when, having used all three substitutes, Alex Penny went down with a hamstring problem and AFC were forced to see the game out with only ten men.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Hinckley looked to have bagged all three points with six minutes to go. Jackson set up Williams 25 yards out, the winger firing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to send the large travelling support into delirium.
Then, Agar’s snapshot was well saved by Allen at his near post as Hinckley looked to put the game beyond doubt.
And that save was to prove crucial late on, and Coventry gave themselves a golden opportunity to level in the final minute of normal time. O’Grady got the wrong side of Thomas, and went to ground in the box. The referee gave a penalty, but Blythe’s spot kick was poor and Cross made the save to preserve Hinckley’s lead.
And the action-packed end to the game continued into seven minutes of stoppage time. In the third minute, Hinckley hearts sank when Blythe touched home Briscoe’s far post header, but the goal was disallowed for offside and Hinckley could breathe again.
But having not scored from his previous two opportunities, Blythe wasn’t to pass up a third chance, bundling home O’Grady’s corner in the 95th minute to rescue a dramatic late point for the league leaders.
Despite conceding a late equaliser, Hinckley will be delighted to take a point back to Leicestershire, and the games continue to come thick and fast as Bolehall Swifts visit St John’s Park on Tuesday.
Coventry: David Allen, Pierre Moudime, Ben Vallance, Richard Blythe, Martin Hutchcox, Callum Burgess, Josh O’Grady, Tom Glasscoe (Robert Prinzel 77), Ross Briscoe, Matt Brown (Wendel Moyo 83) Chris Cox. Subs not used: Jamie Coleman, Brian Ndlovu, Muziwandile Nduna
Goals: Callum Burgess (30), Richard Blythe (90+5)
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Mitchell Tomlinson, Lee Thomas, Alex Penny, Greg Pearson, Lee Butler, Sean Williams, Darious Darkin (Marcus Jackson 55), Sam Agar, Ryan Seal (Marco Adaggio 68), Javia Roberts (Luke Richards 55). Subs not used: Alex Morris, Tom Bates
Goals: Ryan Seal (21), Sean Williams (84)