Hinckley AFC were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon to continue their title charge in division one. The Leicestershire side have been incredible over the last few months and were looking for their 10th consecutive league win coming into this one.
With a lot of the matches being postponed around the league yesterday due to the weather, this was a good opportunity to further extend their lead at the top of the table.
Wednesfield have been one of the surprise teams this season in division one and are competing for the play offs going into the second half of the season. They were looking to get a statement result yesterday against one of the in-form teams in the league. Their record on the road going into this match was good with four wins and two draws from nine matches.
The atmosphere around Barwell sports club was positive and relaxed prior to kick off with a notable turnout of 220 supporters at the ground. The stadium is an excellent location for groundhoppers around the midlands area and is accessible by getting the 158 Sapphire bus from either Nuneaton and Leicester and stopping at Barwell Square before making the walk-up Kirkby Road.
The programme on offer by the club was excellent and good value for money. It provided the latest news relating to Hinckley AFC and a well-researched history of Wednesfield who notably reached the Birmingham Senior Cup final back in 1985 where they lost to Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Starting Line Ups
Hinckley’s starting line up included Brandon Bache starting in goal and Danny Fraser captaining the team from left back. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Brady Middleton leading the line up front and being supported by Lewis Rankin and Isa Abraham on the wings.
There were three changes from the team that started against Ingles on Boxing Day with Matt Dawson coming back into the team and playing at right back.
The starting line up for Wednesfield featured Craig Pain starting in goal and Nathan Walker captaining the team from defensive midfield. The formation appeared to be a 4-3-3 with Jay Holdcroft playing up front and being supported by Ronan Sheehan and Dominic Latham on the wings.
There were two changes from the team that started against Wolves Sporting on Boxing Day with Jordan Uppal coming into the team and starting at left back.
The opening ten minutes of the match were fairly cagey with both teams settling into the match.
Hinckley were given a penalty in the 12th minute for a handball in the box by Bradley Lawley. It was a contentious decision, and the visitors would have felt hard done by as they settled into the match well prior to that. None the less, Tom Weale stepped up and took it brilliantly from the spot into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 to Hinckley.
The goal gave Hinckley a bit of confidence and they started to build some promising attacks in front of the Wednesfield goal. Brady Middleton got into an excellent position in the box and fired narrowly wide. They were well organised off the ball and managed to contain the attacking threat of Wednesfield throughout the majority of the first half.
A defensive mistake in the box by Wednesfield on the half hour mark almost led to it being 2-0. Bradley Lawley had a header misdirected at his own goal instinctively saved by Craig Pain to keep it at 1-0. It was an excellent save which he managed to push over the bar from the top left corner.
Another mistake at the back led to Hinckley having a brilliant opportunity to make it 2-0 on the 35th minute. A back pass to Craig Pain in the box resulted in a direct free kick for Hinckley in the box. Tom Weale stepped up to take the resulting free kick and placed it into the bottom right corner to increase the lead.
Despite the defensive mistakes by Wednesfield, Hinckley still needed the composure to take them, and they did so ruthlessly to go into a 2-0 lead. One of the main strengths of Hinckley this season has been how clinical they have been in the box and the first half was another example of that yesterday.
The best chances for Wednesfield came near the end of the first half. Jay Holdcroft had an excellent chance through on goal to make it 2-1. His shot was well cleared by Matt Dawson who anticipated the play excellently to preserve the clean sheet going into half time.
There were a few half chances around the edge of the box for Wednesfield with Kie Houlihan getting into a good position before shooting at Brandon Bache and Lewis Worsey putting his shot wide of goal from the left flank.
Wednesfield had a brilliant twenty-minute spell in the second half where they were taking the game to Hinckley and looking to get back in it. The visitors were passing the ball around midfield well and linking up the play effectively in the final third. The only thing missing was that final ball to unlock the defence.
Jay Holdcroft played an excellent ball from the right that narrowly evaded the head of Dominic Latham early in the second half.
Kie Houlihan really impressed in midfield for Wednesfield and was passing the ball well around the pitch to get attacks going. He also looked a threat on the ball and was central to how Wednesfield built attacks.
The best chance for Wednesfield to get back into it fell to Tony Agnello who made a brilliant run on the edge of the box and unleashed a shot that hit the crossbar. It was a bit of a warning sign for Hinckley that the visitors could get back into it.
Hinckley responded to the attacking threat shown by Wednesfield with a moment of genuine quality to effectively win the match in the 70th minute. Lewis Rankin made an excellent run before cutting inside and finishing brilliantly into the top left corner to make it 3-0 and ultimately give them the three points.
The Leicestershire side really started to show their quality late on and had some excellent moments in front of goal. Lewis Rankin played a defence splitting pass that went to the byline where a ball was squared to Declan Somel who finished well into the bottom left corner to make it 4-0.
Hinckley controlled the match well late on and after 90 minutes the referee blew for the full-time whistle.
Hinckley were good in this match and offered quality both on and off the ball. As is the case with the top teams, there’s quality throughout the team but Tom Weale stood out yesterday. He played in central defence alongside Jack Beasley and did not look out of place. He read the game well at the back and was excellent on set pieces when the team needed a goal to settle into the match.
There were two key strengths that Hinckley showed yesterday. The first was being clinical in front of goal and taking key chances when it matters which was certainly the case in the first half.
The second was the strength in depth with the quality on the bench standing out. To have the likes of Kyron Green, Riley Davoile and Joe Cairns on the bench and see them come on and make a positive impact in the second half speaks volumes to how well the team is set up.
Wednesfield played well in this match and were competitive against a quality side throughout the 90 minutes. The main thing missing was that ruthlessness in front of goal but apart from that they showed a lot of quality in this match. The most pleasing thing was the number of chances created against the league leaders which is encouraging.
Their still well involved in the play off chase and there’s reasons to be optimistic for Wednesfield supporters for the second half of the season.
FT Score: Hinckley AFC 4-0 Wednesfield
Man of the Match: Tom Weale (Hinckley AFC)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
AFC Bridgnorth V Shawbury United
It’s been a challenging season for Bridgnorth so far and their three points above the relegation zone in 16th. None the less, there’s still some positives to take going into this match.
A key strength has been their home form with just three losses from 10 matches which has helped them battle against relegation. They have also been notably better defensively at home and have conceded just 16 goals compared to 38 on the road from the same number of matches.
Luke Morris is a player to watch who has been excellent in front of goal with 9 goals in the league.
Shawbury have gone a bit under the radar within division one but are comfortably in mid table coming into this match. The Shropshire side are 11th in the table with 28 points from 22 matches and it’s been an excellent season so far.
Their record on the road has been a strength this season with five wins from eleven matches. They have been brilliant defensively with just 17 goals conceded away from home.
Shawbury are coming into this match in a brilliant run of form with 10 points from their last four matches. Reece Jacobs is a player to watch with 10 league goals this season.
Bilston Town V Wolverhampton Sporting Community
Bilston have been growing into the season and gradually climbing up the table. Their currently in 8th with 33 points from 21 matches and only a point off 5th.
A key strength of their season has been their home record with seven wins at Queen Street compared to three on the road. Their coming off a brilliant boxing day win over Smethwick Rangers and should be going into match this with some confidence.
The Steelmen have picked up 11 points from their last six league matches which includes notable home wins over fellow play off chasers Heather St John’s and Ingles.
Samuel Yankson is a player to watch who has been excellent since joining over the summer and has 13 goals in the league.
Wolves Sporting have been struggling in the league recently with seven consecutive losses coming into this one. Their involved in a relegation battle to stay in the division and are currently in 17th with 14 points from 20 matches and out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
None the less, there’s quality in the squad and players with the potential to get better. Leslie Omorodion is a player to watch up front who has six goals in the league and can be clinical in front of goal when given the chance.
Chelmsley Town V Cradley Town
Chelmsley Town are comfortably in mid table going into this match and are in 15th with 27 points from 20 matches and well clear of the relegation places.
One of the key strengths has been their home record which has propelled the club into a mid-table position. Six wins and three draws from 12 matches is an excellent record and it’s a testament to how well the squad is playing that their looking up the table rather than below them. Their only a point off Shawbury United in 11th in a congested mid table.
Aidan Doherty is a player to watch for Chelmsley who has been brilliant at the back.
Cradley Town are looking for a result to get back on track following consecutive losses in the league over the last week.
The Hammers lost to OJM Black Country on Boxing Day but are in a good position in the division. Their 3rd in the table with 39 points from 21 matches and it’s been an excellent turnaround from a club that was battling relegation last season.
Their record on the road has been a mixed bag with four wins from ten matches. Their away at Wednesfield next Saturday in a huge match in the race for the play offs before playing Sutton United at home on the 13th January.
Jordan Crump is a player to watch for the Hammers who links up the play well and has 8 goals in the league so far this season.
Coton Green V Stapenhill
Coton Green are currently in the relegation places going into the second half of the season and are in 19th with 12 points from 20 matches.
One of their main issues has been their home record with just one win from 9 matches. Their home form is going to be crucial to have a chance of staying up come the end of the season.
The Green army have a crucial run of fixtures coming up and play Paget Rangers (Away) and AFC Bridgnorth (Home) over the next few weeks.
Leighton Hines is a player to watch for Coton who has been excellent on the wing this season in division one.
Stapenhill are comfortably in mid table coming into this match. The Swans are in 13th with 28 points from 20 matches and have been hit and miss this season. Their record on the road has been patchy with four wins from 12 matches.
None the less, there’s quality in the squad and their capable of finishing in the top half of the table. Sam Birks is a player to watch who has 10 goals in the league and has been a key attacking threat for the Swans this season.
Droitwich Spa V Allscott Heath
Droitwich have been good in division one and are competing near the top of the table. Their 2nd in the league with 39 points from 19 matches and are five points ahead of OJM Black Country in 6th.
The league title might be a stretch with Hinckley playing excellently over the last few months. None the less, the Saltmen are capable of a top three finish which would be a successful season. Their record at home has been a key strength with just one loss from eight matches.
Charlie Tilley is Droitwich’s main attacking threat and has been excellent for the Saltmen with 10 league goals from attacking midfield.
Allscott Heath have been excellent since being promoted from the West Midlands Regional League last season and are competing for the play offs. The Shropshire side have adapted to step six brilliantly and to be in the play-off chase is testament to how well the squad is playing.
Their record on the road has been good with four wins and two losses from nine matches. They are currently in 4th with 36 points from 19 matches. Thomas Fallon is a player to watch for the Monners who has 10 goals in the league.
Heather St John’s V Paget Rangers
Heather St John’s are currently in 10th with 31 points from 20 matches and three points off 5th.
Their main strength has been their home record with seven wins from eleven matches. The Saints are also notably better in front of goal at home with an incredible 29 goals at home compared to 14 on the road.
Kyle Jardine has been excellent for Heather and has 23 goals up front to be one of the leading scorers in the league.
Paget have been building some momentum of late and are coming off a draw with Sutton United on boxing day and a crucial win over Smethwick Rangers last weekend. It’s been a challenging season for the Bears so far but their not too far adrift of safety and are only in the relegation zone on goal difference.
Their record on the road has been a notable issue this season with one win from eight matches.
None the less, this match is a good opportunity for the Bears to get a statement result away from home to climb out of the relegation places.
Nathan Weir is a player to watch who has been playing well on the left wing for Paget over the last few weeks.
Hinckley AFC V Wednesfield
Hinckley have been incredible in division one over the last month and are in prime position for the league title come the end of the season. The Leicestershire side are 1st in the table with 54 points from 22 matches and have won nine consecutive league matches.
It’s just a case of keeping the standards high and being consistent between now and the end of the season to win the title. Their home record has been brilliant with 8 wins from eleven matches.
Lewis Rankin is a player to watch for Hinckley who has that quality on the ball to unlock defences and create chances in the final third.
Wednesfield have been excellent in division one and are emerging as a play-off contender going into the second half of the season. Their currently 5th in the table with 34 points from 19 matches and they have picked up 14 points from their last six league matches.
The record on the road has been good with four wins and two draws from nine matches.
Jay Holdcroft is a player to watch for Wednesfield who has been excellent up front and has 11 league goals from 19 matches.
OJM Black Country V Nuneaton Griff
OJM have been playing well recently and are coming off an excellent away win at Cradley Town on boxing day. Their 6th in the table with 34 points from 19 matches and just outside the play offs on goal difference. They have 17 points from their last eight league matches going into this match.
Their record at the Triplex Sports Association has been good with just one loss from six matches. One of their key strengths has been defensively with only 19 goals conceded which is the best in the division.
Callum Nimmo is a player to watch at the back for OJM who has been excellent this season.
Nuneaton Griff are comfortably in mid table going into this match. The Heartlanders are in 14th with 28 points from 21 matches and well clear of any relegation worries. Their record on the road has been patchy with three wins from eleven matches. They have also struggled in the league of late with six points from their last six league matches.
None the less, there’s quality in the squad to cause OJM some problems tomorrow afternoon.
Nathan McGarrity has been leading the line well up front with 12 league goals since joining the club over the summer.
Smethwick Rangers V Ingles
Smethwick have been struggling in the league and are involved in a relegation battle to stay in the division. Their currently 20th in the table with 12 points from 22 matches and are coming off four consecutive losses since beating Droitwich Spa at home in early December.
One of the positives for Smethwick is that they are only two points from safety and there’s a lot of the season left to play. There’s also quality in the squad to help them pick up results between now and late April.
Jahmaal McIntosh-McMahon has looked good up front and links up the play well in the final third. He has five goals in the league so far this season.
Ingles are entering the second half of the season challenging for the play offs. Their currently 7th in the table with 34 points from 20 matches and outside of the play offs on goal difference. They have been excellent so far and are in contention for a top five finish come April.
A key part of their success has been their defensive record with only 29 goals conceded which is one of the best in the division. Their record on the road has been hit and miss with four wins and four losses from nine matches.
Jack Allen is a player to watch who is an attacking threat for Ingles with seven league goals this season.
Sutton United V Coventry Copsewood
Sutton have been excellent this season in division one and have adapted to step six football excellently since coming up from division two last season.
Their main goal was to stay up in their first season at this level so a top half finish would be an excellent achievement come April.
Their currently in 9th with 32 points from 22 matches. One of their main strengths is how tough they have been to beat with only six losses and their currently on a six game unbeaten run.
Joe Gildea has been brilliant up front and is the leading scorer in the division with 24 goals.
Coventry Copsewood are comfortably in mid table going into this match. Their having a good season in division one and are going a bit under the radar. Their currently 12th in the table with 28 points from 21 matches and well clear of any relegation worries.
The visitors’ away record has been hit and miss with four wins and five losses from eleven matches.
Sean Kavanagh has been brilliant since joining from Coventrians over the summer and has 12 league goals up front.
Preview feature written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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