Hinckley AFC 4-0 Stafford Town

Luke Richards and Steve Hart both scored twice as Hinckley AFC made it four straight wins with a 4-0 victory over Stafford Town.

The forwards both scored once in each half in a controlling performance by Dale Belford’s side on a chilly afternoon at St John’s Park.

It ensured Hinckley remained in fifth in the league and strengthened their position as the league’s leading scorers.

Belford made two changes to his side that beat Heath Hayes in the week. Lamar Graham made his first start, while Marcus Jackson came back in.

And AFC started as they went on, seeing plenty of the ball in the opening stages. Visiting ‘keeper Josh Moreton made a strong save ten minutes in to keep the scores level, before Richards wasted a good chance with a tame near post effort when Hart was in space at the far.

He made up for that, though, by opening the scoring four minutes later, springing the offside trap and rounding Moreton before sliding home from a tight angle.

As Hinckley sought a second to make them more comfortable, James Williams headed wide, and Hart’s lofted cross from the byline looped onto the bar.

In the visitors’ first real effort, Mark Habbershaw found acres of space but failed to test Ty Belford in the home goal, and Hinckley went straight up the other end and doubled their lead as Hart capitalised on a defensive mis-kick and found the net to make it 2-0.

By this stage it was all Hinckley, and when they broke from a Stafford corner, Hart just couldn’t find Graham in the box and the visitors cleared.

Approaching half time Isaac Cooper, a thorn in Stafford’s side throughout, had a well struck shot held by Moreton, while Stafford’s Ben Gutteridge snatched at an effort from range which flew well wide.

In truth, Hinckley never looked like relinquishing their lead after the break. Richards was inches away from a second when he fired over from Graham’s ball to the far post, before┬áDominic Perkins headed wide in Hinckley’s search for a third.

And the goal came shortly afterwards. Stafford were too slow to close Richards down, who was allowed to pick his spot from the edge of the box and he found the bottom corner to register his third brace in three games.

Even with three on the board, Hinckley didn’t let up and a fourth goal was soon to follow. Richards was denied his hat-trick with a diving header by Moreton’s save, but he could only parry into the path of Hart, who drilled home a fourth.

In Stafford’s closest chance of the second half, Belford clawed away from Tom Duffy’s header, but Hinckley were largely comfortable in keeping their clean sheet.

Late on, they came close to a fifth when substitute Kevin Thornton bent one narrowly wide, and Richards was denied his treble by the offside flag.

But it wasn’t to matter and Hinckley will look for their fifth win on the bounce at Brocton next week.

Hinckley: Ty Belford, James Williams, Dominic Perkins, Lamar Graham (Kevin Thornton 70), Richard Lavery, Bekir Halil, Isaac Cooper, Marcus Jackson, Luke Richards, Steve Hart, Mitchell Tomlinson (Asa Wright 46). Subs not used: Ben Rad, Chad Timson, Richard Munday

Goals: Luke Richards (17, 64), Steve Hart (34, 67)

Stafford: Josh Moreton, Oliver Butler, Ben Gutteridge, Brad Lewis, Dave Wilcock, Ryan Downing, Jack Partridge (Liam Day-Downing 56), Ryan Pace, Tom Duffy, Mark Habershaw (Tom Doody 56), Jack Milgate. Subs not used: Taylor Allen, Tom Wright, Matt Burslem

Attendance: 162

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