A late penalty from Ryan Seal gave Hinckley AFC their first win of 2016-17 with a 2-1 triumph away at Stafford Town.
Seal sent Connor Alderman the wrong way from the spot in the first minute of stoppage time, grabbing all three points for the visitors on a night where they were far from their best.
Earlier, Seal had cancelled out Shepherd Machinguata’s opener and the sides looked destined for a point apiece until the late spot kick.
Having drawn 2-2 with Littleton on the opening day, Carl Abbott made three changes to his Hinckley side as they searched for their first victory of the campaign. Mark Williams replaced James Williams at right back, Seal came in for Peter Williams and Nick Wellecomme made his Hinckley debut in the absence of Sam Agar.
And AFC started brightly in their quest for an early goal, Sean Williams seeing his header tipped around the near post by Alderman and Ryan Blagborough clearing Seal’s effort off the line.
Then, Wellecomme headed Lee Butler’s corner over the bar, before Stafford scored with their first chance of the game on seventeen minutes.
It was a chance gifted to them by Hinckley’s lapse in concentration at the back: Lee Thomas’ back pass put Tom Cross in trouble, the ‘keeper’s clearance hitting Machinguata and rebounding straight into the path of the striker, who tapped home.
The same player then glanced a header wide as Stafford grew into the game, but Hinckley were back on level pegging again on the half hour. Seal latched onto Darious Darkin’s through ball, coolly slotting past the onrushing Alderman to level.
Hinckley came close to going into half time in the lead, but Sean Williams’ flashing drive evaded everyone in the box as well as the far post.
After the break, though, Hinckley were lacklustre and couldn’t find the rhythm that would threaten the home defence.
Indeed, it was Stafford who came closest to finding the next goal. Queenton Mananse cut inside Thomas, and crossed low where Machinguata was thwarted by Cross’ fine low save.
At the other end, Seal was defeated by a bobble on Mark Williams’ ball in, and Mike Harvey couldn’t divert Isaac Cooper’s free kick goalbound.
Then, Hinckley hearts were in mouths as Harvey’s clearance hit Ryan Paddock and, with Cross beaten, the ball trickled onto the post and Mark Williams was on hand to clear.
Stafford continued to threaten on the counter, and broke at pace after they cleared a long throw but Blagborough could only find the side netting.
For Hinckley, Wellecomme’s snapshot struck the side netting as AFC sought the winning goal.
It was a winning goal that would come just as the clock hit 90 minutes. Wellecomme’s feet were taken from underneath him by Matt Bartlett, and Seal did the rest from twelve yards.
After that, Harry Bowers volleyed Stafford’s only chance to equalise high and wide, and Hinckley’s supporters breathed a collective sigh of relief on the full time whistle.
Stafford: Connor Alderman, Ryan Blagborough, Harry Bowers, Walter Vundla (Gavin Allers 36), Yann Edimo, Matt Bartlett, Carenton Turner, Dan Jones, Shepherd Machinguata, Emmanuel Anarfi (Baboucarr Johm 93), Queenton Mananse (Dan Chisanga 85). Subs not used: Luke Brown, Jordan Banks
Goal: Shepherd Machinguata (17)
Hinckley: Tom Cross, Mark Williams, Lee Thomas, Ryan Paddock, Mike Harvey, Darious Darkin, Lee Butler, Ryan Seal (Jean Kalenda 91), Nick Wellecomme, Sean Williams, Rico Taylor (Isaac Cooper 57). Subs not used: Kian Jackson, Shaquille Lee, James Williams
Goals: Ryan Seal (30, 90 pen)
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