Pilkington XXX 3-2 Hinckley AFC

Pilkington XXX 3-2 Hinckley AFC

Hinckley AFC scored two goals in two minutes late on, but couldn’t overturn the three goal advantage they gifted Pilkington XXX as they slipped to defeat yesterday evening.

Despite offering the greater attacking threat for sustained spells in the game, AFC’s defensive errors came back to haunt them as they found home goalkeeper Reece Francis in inspired form.

Slips at the back allowed Pilks to take a three goal lead shortly after half time, and although Sam Agar and Sean Williams netted in a late rally, Hinckley had left themselves too much to do and their nine match unbeaten run came to an end.

Carl Abbott made two changes to the side that beat Pelsall Villa on Saturday. Alex Penny (injured) and JJ Melligan (unavailable) were the men to make way, with Ryan Seal and Javia Roberts coming in.

The game started slowly, with both sides measuring each other up, but it was Hinckley who had the first chance on the quarter hour mark. Isaac Cooper’s long throw broke to Williams, but the winger’s powerful effort was stopped at point blank range by Francis.

That was to become a recurring theme throughout the night, and just a minute later it was Cooper’s long range effort that was denied at the second attempt.

Then, Williams’ swerving 25 yarder forced a flying save from the Pilks ‘keeper, before the home side took the lead with their first real sight of goal. A poor square ball from Mike Harvey put his side in trouble, and Pilks took full advantage as Daniel Douse rounded Tom Cross and slotted home.

Cross then had to be on hand to beat away a left wing free kick, before normal service was resumed at the other end – Francis tipping Seal’s effort from range over the bar and parrying around the post from Agar’s shot on the turn.

Five minutes before half time, Patrick Behan glanced Joe Wykes’ cross wide when in space, but he made up for that three minutes later. He feigned a shot, selling two Hinckley defenders and allowing him the time and space to guide a left foot shot into Cross’ bottom corner.

That gave Hinckley an uphill struggle after the break, and it became more of a mountain five minutes into the second period. Isaac Cooper was bemused at being adjudged to have fouled Douse, and from Anthony Fletcher’s resulting free kick Hinckley’s defence was static as Matt Stirzaker glanced into the bottom corner from six yards to add a third.

For all their defensive frailties, Hinckley still looked threatening going forward but continued to be denied by Francis. On 69 minutes, substitute Matt Bailey’s fantastic flick-on set up Agar, whose through ball was met by Roberts. The diminutive winger looked certain to score, but was denied one on one by the onrushing Pilks keeper.

Francis was finally beaten by the resulting corner, but Harvey’s effort was cleared off the line.

And he was beaten again five minutes later by Agar’s show from a narrow angle, only for the Hinckley forward to be contentiously denied by the offside flag.

Not to be deterred, Hinckley kept pressing and it was third time lucky shortly afterwards. Agar beat the offside trap to get in behind the defence, and coolly took the ball around Francis to slam home.

The comeback was well and truly on two minutes later when Hinckley scored the goal of the game. Bailey’s phenomenal cross-field pass found Williams, who met it first time on the half volley with a shot that flew into the the far corner to give Francis no chance and Hinckley hope.

Now, Hinckley had all the momentum but the flow continued to be taken out of the game by persistent timewasting and niggly fouls from the home side that prevented Hinckley playing.

Their best chance of equalising came with seven minutes to go, when Agar headed over from Lee Butler’s set piece.

Ultimately, the equaliser was elusive and Hinckley were frustrated by their defensive woes as their nine match unbeaten run comes to an end ahead of the visit of Pershore Town on Saturday.

Pilkington: Reece Francis, Keith Draper, Jake Wicketts, Kieran McCalla, Matt Stirzaker, Jack Gauntlett (Matt Powell 60), Joe Wykes, Anthony Fletcher, Patrick Behan (Dale Kenny 67), Chad Barrett, Daniel Douse. Subs not used: Phil Chesters, Craig Oldfield, Kieran Blair.

Goals: Daniel Douse (24), Patrick Behan (43), Matt Stirzaker (50)

Hinckley: Tom Cross, Isaac Cooper (Matt Bailey 59), Lee Thomas, Mitchell Tomlinson, Mike Harvey, Lee Butler, Sean Williams, Darious Darkin, Sam Agar, Ryan Seal, Javia Roberts. Sub not used: Jean Kalenda

Goals: Sam Agar (76), Sean Williams (78)

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