A penalty in each half from captain Ryan Seal was enough for Hinckley AFC to get back to winning ways with a 2-0 success over Heather St John’s.
AFC lost at home in the league for just the second time this season on Tuesday but still occupy second spot after bouncing back with a win over their landlords.
On a glorious sunny and warm day Seal was coolness personified from twelve yards, twice slotting beyond Heather ‘keeper Ben Allsop after referee Scott Tallis had pointed to the spot.
There were three changes to the Hinckley side that lost to Atherstone on Tuesday, with James Williams, Chad Degville-Cross and Lee Butler all returning, while Heather named three former Hinckley players in their starting eleven.
But it was Heather who started the game on top, and had the first real spell of pressure when they forced a couple of corners, the second of which ended with Fraser Doyle striking wide.
But Hinckley started to grow into the game around the quarter hour mark, and forced the first save from Allsop when James Williams was denied with a header from Butler’s corner.
Then, good work by Javia Roberts down the right saw him turn his man and pull back to the edge of the box, where Seal stroked wide.
But real goalmouth action was few and far between as the game went through a quiet phase for the next 15 minutes; both sides were playing some neat football at times but lacking the killer final ball.
When Hinckley did fashion chances again, Darious Darkin’s fierce low drive took a wicked deflection which left Allsop wrong-footed but flew inches wide.
Then, Francino Francis headed Seal’s corner over from six yards and Darkin’s fine cross was nodded wide by Roberts at the far post as Hinckley knocked on the door.
And the opener came three minutes before half time. Sullivan’s neat turn saw him draw a foul from Levi Dawson, and Seal stepped up to send Allsop the wrong way from the resulting spot kick.
On the stroke of half time, Sullivan was denied a goal of his own by Allsop’s low save after a neat move in which he was set up by Butler as AFC took a slender advantage into the break.
Their first chance to extend that advantage came three minutes into the second period when Seal’s shot was blocked.
But while there was only a goal between the sides, Heather were always in with a chance and their first chance to level came when Michael Tweed’s swerving 30 yarder was parried away by Haydn Whitcombe.
Hinckley broke forward immediately, sending Roberts through on goal. His heavy touch took him around Allsop, he went down and a second penalty of the afternoon was questionably given. Seal wasn’t to let up the opportunity of a second, emphatically slamming into the bottom corner for his 52nd goal of the season.
Darkin then stroked inches wide as Hinckley looked to put the game beyond doubt, while Heather had a couple of half chances but neither Ross Clarke’s 20 yard effort nor Deqwon Ebanks’ half a yard of space could trouble Whitcombe.
As the game petered out somewhat, the closest either side came to adding to the goals on display was when AFC broke through Butler down the left. He fed Seal, whose fierce drive was parried by Allsop out to substitute Sean Williams. After cutting inside, though, Williams could only blaze over.
Entering the closing stages both sides had a long range effort of note apiece – Degville-Cross curling narrowly too high for Hinckley before Heather’s Michael Gyasi saw a speculative strike held by Whitcombe.
And AFC held out to record their third clean sheet in four games ahead of Tuesday’s visit of St Andrews in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final.
Hinckley: Haydn Whitcombe, James Williams, Chad Degville-Cross, Mark Williams, Francino Francis, Andy Westwood, Lee Butler (JJ Melligan 74), Ryan Seal, Javia Roberts (Sean Williams 66), Paul Sullivan (Lee Thomas 89), Darious Darkin. subs not used: Leadun Dunlevy, Jack Hartopp
Goals: Ryan Seal (42 pen, 64 pen)
Heather: Ben Allsop, Levi Dawson, Shane Smith (Kieran Smith 10), Michael Tweed, Ross Clarke, Callum Rudd, Jake Healy (Michael Turner 89), Luke Pinnock, Deqwon Ebanks, Fraser Doyle, Michael Gyasi. Subs not used: Ryan Nesbitt, Eddie Wilson, Sean Allsop
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