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
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