Hinckley AFC moved up to fourth in the Midland League Division One with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Coventry Copsewood at St John’s Park.
Josh Burniston and Kai Tonge twice put Hinckley ahead, only for the visitors to twice pull them back, before Luke Richards scored what proved to be the decisive goal just before half time.
And with both sides having played on Thursday, the action caught up with them in the second half as both sides looked leggy and AFC comfortably held out for all three points.
Despite playing less than 48 hours earlier, Richard Lavery named an unchaged Hinckley side to the one that started against Racing Club Warwick.
As the 4-4 scoreline suggests, that game was frantic and the end-to-end nature of Hinckley’s games continued in the first half against Copsewood.
Not looking deterred by conceding a late equaliser on Thursday, Hinckley had the better of the early chances. Tonge and Burniston combined early, the former’s cross leading to the latter having a header deflected wide.
James Williams headed over from the resulting corner but the opening goal wasn’t long coming. With two Copsewood players occupying Steve Hart, they neglected Burniston on the left and Hart fed the former Kirby Muxloe man, who finished neatly beyond Jack Hartopp.
The Coventry outfit fought back ten minutes later though, and levelled with their first real opportunity. A switch of play found Lawrence Rawlings, who cut inside past Mitchell Tomlinson and Richard Munday, slamming home the rebound despite Carl O’Neill’s fine save from the initial effort.
But they weren’t level for long. Just four minutes afterwards, Hart’s neat turn on halfway allowed him the space to free Tonge, who raced through on goal and netted with a delicate loft over the advancing Hartopp.
As Hinckley sought to extend their lead, Hartopp pushed Hart’s 20-yarder wide of the post and a rare foray forward by Tomlinson resulted in the former Hinckley ‘keeper holding his ex-teammate’s effort from range.
But though they had more of the play, Hinckley didn’t fashion too many real chances in this period and their battling visitors equalised for a second time eight minutes before the break. Hinckley switched off as they thought the ball would go out of play, but George Whitelaw didn’t and kept the ball in before delivering a cross for Andre Yerou to fire into the roof of the net.
The visitors would have taken confidence if they could take the 2-2 scoreline into the break, but once again Hinckley restored their lead quickly. Tonge was involved again as he did well to get to the byline before crossing low for Richards to steal a march on his defender and fire home from six yards.
Indeed, Hinckley should have scored again before the break but Tonge was indecisive after being sent through on goal by Hart, and Hartopp smothered at his feet.
Copsewood’s Danny Fraser came closest for the visitors before half time, shooting wide from range before his long range free kick was destined for the top corner only for O’Neill to pluck it from the air.
But while the first half saw chances for both sides, both sides looked tired in the second as 90 minutes on Thursday caught up with them.
Williams headed James Jepson’s free kick wide before Hart blazed over, but neither goalkeeper was forced into action for large spells of the second half.
But Hinckley would have been content with that, their visitors never really threatening to wipe out their lead for a third time as AFC managed the game well.
The game had entered its final five minutes before either side came close again, and it was Hinckley who threatened. Hart twisted and turned before a shot was deflected wide, before Munday headed wide after good work down the right by Tonge and Richards sliced wide from six yards when he should have put the game to bed.
But the missed chances didn’t cost them, despite Fraser proving Copsewood’s main threat again. Their first shot on target of the second half was comfortably held by O’Neill, before the same player fired comfortable wide from a free kick in stoppage time.
And Hinckley held on for the three points that sees them leapfrog Atherstone Town in the table and move into the top four.
Hinckley: Carl O’Neill, James Williams, Mitchell Tomlinson, James Jepson (Nick Goold 81), Richard Munday, Richard Lavery, Kai Tonge, Josh Burniston, Luke Richards, Steve Hart, Josh Willis. Subs not used: Jonathan Bukasa, Jack Sutherland, Chad Timson
Goals: Josh Burniston (6), Kai Tonge (21), Luke Richards (40)
Copsewood: Jack Hartopp, George Whitelaw, Jordan Fesel, Gabe Barnwell-Edinboro, Sean Martin, Connor Cahill, Danny Fraser, Chris Johnson, Lawrence Rawlings (Callum Mack 18), Andre Yerou, Jake Upton. Sub not used: Shammond Grizzle, Leluu Slaiman
Goals: Lawrence Rawlings (17), Andre Yerou (37)