Ryan Seal was Hinckley AFC’s hero as he scored a goal either side of half time to give his side a 2-1 win at Leicester Road this evening.
The captain twice gave AFC the lead, scoring from close range in the first half before converting a penalty ten minutes from time to secure all three points following James Hicks’ leveller for the hosts.
And after Hicks was sent off for a nasty challenge on Jean Kalenda in stoppage time, Hinckley comfortably held out for their third straight win over their Leicestershire rivals.
Carl Abbott made two changes to the AFC side that started Saturday’s game against Coventry Copsewood. Sam Agar and Sean Williams returned to the side, replacing Luke Richards and Javia Roberts.
And it was Hinckley who had much the better of a first half which started in a hailstorm, so much so that they denied their opponents a shot in the first 45 minutes.
Instead, it was mostly one way traffic towards the Leicester Road goal, even though Hinckley were restricted to long range shots early on as Williams dragged narrowly wide and Darious Darkin volleyed just over.
Then, Williams saw his 25 yard effort spilled fortuitously wide by Will Highland, and from the resulting corner Highland gathered just before the ball crossed the line.
Hinckley were showing no sign of letting up, and Highland was called into action again when pushing wide Agar’s shot on the turn.
And after all their pressure, AFC took a deserved lead on 26 minutes. Williams’ throw in was held up superbly by Agar, who crossed low for Seal to bundle home at the second attempt from eight yards.
The opening goal didn’t change the pattern of play, and shortly after it Williams headed wide at the far post when he arguably should gave hit the target.
As Leicester Road struggled to gain a foothold in the game, Jake Holt had to be on hand to clear Seal’s 25 yarder off the line, before Marcus Jackson’s fierce volley fizzed wide of the far post.
It took until the game’s second half, the 50th minute to be precise, for Leicester Road to register a shot, but they nearly levelled with their first real attack. Hicks saw his shot blocked by Ryan Paddock, but before Hinckley could clear the same player bundled the ball onto the bar.
At the other end, Darkin blazed over after more good hold up play from Agar as Hinckley looked to extend their lead.
But Abbott’s side were never going to have it all their own way, and Leicester Road applied pressure for the next twenty minutes. Hicks’ header was tipped over by Tom Cross, Josh Smith’s effort was cleared off the line and Matt Stenson curled narrowly wide as the home side looked to level.
By this point, Leicester Road were winning all the second balls and after Cross easily dealt with Tom McGlinchey’s goalbound flick, the Hinckley stopper then pushed Hicks’ 25 yarder wide.
And the equalising goal came with twelve minutes remaining. Hinckley backed off as Leicester Road broke forward, and Holt’s long range strike bounced awkwardly in front of Cross. The ‘keeper couldn’t hold on, and Hicks converted the rebound to restore parity.
The state of equilibrium lasted only two minutes, though, before Hinckley were back in the lead. A left wing corner was handled by a Leicester Road defender, and Seal stepped up to slot the resulting spot kick into the corner to send the large Hinckley support into delirium.
After that, the only time Leicester Road threatened was when Greg Downes headed inches wide, and in stoppage time the hosts were reduced to ten men as Hicks’ nasty high challenge left Kalenda hobbling off the pitch and saw the referee produce red.
And when the full time whistle was blown after six minutes of time added on, Hinckley confirmed a victory in their hundredth competitive match ahead of the final game of the league season at Littleton on Saturday.
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Marcus Jackson, Lee Thomas, Alex Penny, Ryan Paddock, Lee Butler (Jean Kalenda 74), Sean Williams (Isaac Cooper 84), Darious Darkin, Sam Agar, Ryan Seal, Marcus Jackson (Javia Roberts 69)
Goals: Ryan Seal (26, 80 pen)