It was a frustrating Saturday for Hinckley AFC as they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Studley at The Beehive.
Carl Abbott’s side came into the game looking to keep up the pressure on the sides above them but a bobbly pitch didn’t make for a good spectacle for the travelling supporters.
Hinckley hit the woodwork four times overall but couldn’t find the winner, settling for a point as Javia Roberts replied to Danny Ludlow’s opener for Studley.
Abbott made one change to his side that lost to St Andrews in the League Cup on Tuesday, with Ryan Paddock returning at the heart of the defence and Chad Degville-Cross dropping out.
And without being totally dominant, AFC started the brighter. Sean Williams beat Jake Wicketts down the right and pulled back for Sam Agar six yards out, who was denied by a stunning point blank save from Brad Carter which forced it onto the bar.
From the resulting corner, Studley broke forward at pace and should have had a goal of their own, but Aaron Westwood took too long at the far post with Haydn Whitcombe out of the equation and Lee Thomas blocked his effort on the line.
That summed up the opening stages of the game, Hinckley seeing more of the ball but Studley threatening on the break, and shortly afterwards Hinckley were denied by the bar for a second time when James Williams headed Ryan Seal’s corner against the goalframe.
Then, Roberts was sent through on goal but saw his effort hit the base of the post as Hinckley began to think it just wouldn’t be their day.
And Studley had a chance to punish Hinckley for their missed chances when they were awarded a penalty for a foul by Paddock. Gareth Evans stepped up from the spot but was denied by Whitcombe’s fine low save.
The deadlock was finally broken 27 minutes in. Hinckley were caught trying to overplay and Paddock was caught on the ball by Ludlow, who curled a first time effort into the far corner.
Not to be deterred by going behind, Hinckley kept knocking on the door and Carter was called into action again when Paddock headed Lee Butler’s free kick straight at him.
The equaliser came three minutes later. Carter called for the ball but was beaten to it by Agar, who rounded the floored ‘keeper and pulled back for Roberts to convert a chance he couldn’t miss.
Approaching half time, Sean Williams skimmed a 25 yarder across the surface which Carter comfortably held and Paddock saw a header tipped over by the Studley ‘keeper as Hinckley sought the goal that would send them into the break ahead.
And they came close on the stroke of the break when Seal’s corner was met by Paddock again, whose powerful downward header wasn’t held by Carter but no Hinckley player was on hand to stab home the rebound.
But if the first half saw plenty of chances, the second was a scrappy affair and in its early stages neither side did enough to take the lead again. For Studley, Evans looped one onto the roof of the net while at the other end, Roberts did well to continue driving goalbound despite being held by Keith Draper but his low effort was saved.
Whitcombe then had to be at his best to keep his side level. From a free kick on halfway, Evans won the initial header and Ron Adjei prodded goalbound but Whitcombe denied him from point blank range.
From the resulting corner, Wicketts headed narrowly wide as Studley knocked at the door and tried to capitalise on Hinckley’s laboured start to the second half.
But for the final 20 minutes Hinckley stepped up the pressure in trying to get their ninth win in ten games. Agar had a smart snapshot comfortably saved by Carter, before firing straight at the ‘keeper after being sent through on goal.
Then, substitute JJ Melligan crashed an effort against the bar with his first touch as Hinckley were denied by the woodwork for a fourth time.
Their dominance increased when Studley went down to ten men with five minutes left when Evans got himself a needless second booking for holding onto the ball, but despite seeing a number of efforts blocked Hinckley couldn’t force the ball over the line and Studley held out for a point.
Studley: Brad Carter, Keith Draper, Jake Wicketts, Luke Hennessey, Dan Dineen, Jack McGinn, Josh Westwood (Connor Perry-Holmes 46), Danny Ludlow, Gareth Evans, Ron Adjei, Aaron Westwood (Danny Pitt 93). Subs not used: Matt Dorgan, Matt Powell, Max Bevis
Goal: Danny Ludlow (27)
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams, Lee Thomas, Ryan Paddock, Mark Williams, Andy Westwood, Lee Butler (Darious Darkin 63), Ryan Seal, Sam Agar, Javia Roberts (JJ Melligan 77), Sean Williams. Subs not used: Jack Hartopp, Leadun Dunlevy, Jordan Perks
Goal: Javia Roberts (37)