Two goals in each half gave Hinckley AFC a comfortable 4-1 Non-League Day win over Pershore Town at St John’s Park.
A brace from Ryan Seal, including a stunner from halfway, started and finished the scoring for Hinckley, sandwiching Sean Williams’ deflected strike and Steve Webb’s own goal.
Pershore finished with ten men after captain Shaun Griffiths was sent off, but grabbed a late goal of their own through Jamie Clarke to deny Hinckley a first clean sheet of the season.
The late goal didn’t dampen Hinckley’s spirits though, despite the wet conditions earlier in the day.
Carl Abbott made three changes to his Hinckley side that drew with Nuneaton Griff on Monday. Jamal Clarke came back into the side after a month out, with Williams and Isaac Cooper also returning.
And after an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory of Matt Gadsby, Hinckley started strongly. Seal and Williams linked up well throughout, the first sign of their partnership coming seven minutes in when they combined for Lee Butler to fire over from a narrow angle.
Just fourteen minutes had passed when Hinckley opened the scoring in fine style. Williams’ lay off fell perfectly for Seal inside the centre circle, who spotted former teammate Tom Cross off his line and hit a first time shot from just over the halfway line that sailed past the stricken ‘keeper.
It was a stunning goal that was well worth the admission fee alone for the 167 in attendance, and set Hinckley’s tone for most of the afternoon.
The hosts continued to move the ball well and stretch the Pershore defence, doubling their lead midway through the half.
Williams marked his 50th appearance for the club with a goal as turned from provider to scorer. He was clipped on the edge of the box, but was rewarded for staying on his feet when his 20 yard shot was deflected into the bottom corner.
It took until the half hour mark for Pershore to threaten the Hinckley goal, when Jamal Clarke had to be on hand to clear off the line after namesake Jamie poked past Haydn Whitcombe.
From the resulting corner, Griffiths headed onto the roof of the net, before Gareth Evans called Whitcombe into action with a routine save from his weak effort.
The only time Hinckley really loosened their grip on the game was in the first ten minutes of the second half, during which time Evans’ near post header was comfortably dealt with by Whitcombe.
But any hopes Pershore had of clawing themselves back into the game were dashed shortly before the hour mark. Seal opened up the play by feeding Butler, whose effort from an acute angle was only parried by Cross. Butler reacted quickest and latched onto the rebound, which hit Webb and rebounded over the line to give Hinckley a third.
Williams could have added another when his close range effort somehow hit the underside of the bar and bounced out, but AFC didn’t have to wait much longer for the fourth.
Butler received the ball in the box, and was felled by Griffiths. The Pershore captain saw his second yellow card and had to head for an early bath, and Seal stepped up to send Cross the wrong way from twelve yards.
Hinckley could easily have added further goals as the game entered its closing stages. Williams glanced wide after outjumping the visiting defence, substitute Peter Williams blazed over after Cross parried another Butler effort into his path, and Seal’s chance for a treble went begging when a deflection took the pace off his shot and Cross easily saved.
Hinckley were four minutes away from their first clean sheet of the season, but their minor frustration from the day would be that they couldn’t shut out their visitors completely. With three minutes to go, Jean Kalenda was caught in possession on the byline, and from the resulting cross Jamie Clarke prodded home at the far post.
It was nothing more than a consolation for Pershore, and despite conceding late on Hinckley’s controlling performance set them up well for the FA Vase trip to Holbrook Sports next week.
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, Mike Harvey, Lee Thomas, Ryan Paddock, Jamal Clarke (Jean Kalenda 68), Mark Williams, Lee Butler, Darious Darkin (Peter Williams 60), Ryan Seal, Sean Williams, Isaac Cooper (Rico Taylor 60). Sub not used: Mitchell Tomlinson.
Goals: Ryan Seal (14, 73 pen), Sean Williams (24), Steve Webb (56 OG)
Pershore: Tom Cross, Steve Webb, James Walker, Sam Penfold, Shaun Griffiths, Dane Aldington, Sean Cooke, Will Gayton, Jamie Clarke, Gareth Evans, Damian Fearn (Will Stallard 46). Subs not used: Quentin Townsend, Louis Bridges.
Goal: Jamie Clarke (87)