Hinckley FC 3
Heanor Town 2
HAVING won their appeal following defeat at Hinckley in April and allowed to replay last Thursday, it all became a bridge too far for the Lions in a vain bid to keep in the title race.
They came back twice but suffered a severe blow deep into stoppage time from which there was no escape.
Phil Austin was working and James Whitehead completed the quickest retirement ever of just four days.
Benger fired wide inside 25 seconds as Heanor went for a quick goal. But it was Hinckley, who side contained a number of young players, who looked more like the ones with title aspirations.
Chris Socket might have given them the lead in eight minutes but fired over the bar when well placed and unmarked. But four minutes later the Lions were behind when a total mix up in front of goal between Lee Stevenson and Frost allowed JERMAIN GORDON to fire into the roof of the net.
Hodgson ‘scored’ from a Webster pass as Heanor sought immediate reprisal, but offside resulted. Indeed, there were some inviting crosses from the Lions but Shilliam once again proved an excellent custodian.
Jon Stevenson shot wide across goal as Hinckley threatened again before Heanor suffered a double blow. Wells had not fully recovered from the bug which kept him out of the side at St Andrews and was replaced by Askham, and Webster continued until the interval despite a painful ankle injury before being replaced by Hodgman.
To lose two widemen was indeed a blow to the Lions chances but they soldiered on.
However, 90 seconds after his introduction LEE ASKHAM’s low shot from just outside the penalty area raked through a sea of legs and beat the unsighted Shilliam just inside his left post to restore parity on 32 minutes.
But Hinckley put on lots of pressure with the interval approaching and forced a number of corners as first Peel and then Lee Stevenson headed behind and Frost saved brilliantly from Jon Stevenson for a third.
It was hardly a surprise when Hinckley went ahead again three minutes before the break. The surprise was though that Lee Stevenson missed his tackle for probably the first time this season and couldn’t catch JOE HANLON who showed great strength for a 16-year-old to hold off the challenge and beat Frost with a crisp shot.
It was a first half in which home defender Danny Eden had been outstanding and Heanor couldn’t find a way past him.
It should have been all-square again two minutes into the second half when Hodgson took a pass from the stylish Grayson, rounded Shilliam but saw his weak shot towards an empty net cleared off the line by a defender heading back.
Askham shot wide following a corner as Heanor showed more character, but in pushing forward they left gaps at the back which Hinckley were keen to exploit.
Hanlon, looking very mature for his young years, took a delightful Gordon pass but shot over the bar, and then Frost brilliantly turned a fierce Gordon shot against the woodwork to save Heanor again.
Frost then made another terrific save, this time from Hanlon, whose trickery took him clear and Heanor came under a lot of pressure once again. Peel was caught in possession but Jon Stevenson shot wide when it seemed he must add to the score.
Heanor needed a rescue act, and when they got their game together again they were awarded a penalty when Benger was brought down and it was JAMES WHITEHEAD who drilled the spot kick confidently home for what turned out to be Heanor’s 118th, and last, league goal of the season.
Two minutes later and Heanor, now with their tails up, recovered their composure and Hodgson raced clear but shot just over the bar. The penalty had certainly galvanised the Lions.
Eden became the game’s only booking for bringing down Hodgman on his way to goal and the free kick from Hodgson was straight into Shilliam’s arms.
Grayson’s half volley was saved by Shilliam and Benger couldn’t control a Hodgson cross as Heanor pressed for the winner.
Heanor brought on Williams as the last throw of the dice with four minutes left, and he saw Hodgson shoot over the top. Hodgson then set up Askham who danced round two defenders and tried to place his shot into the bottom corner allowing Shilliam to stretch out a hand and save rather easily when he should have been picking the ball out of the net.
Hodgson had a shot blocked by Shilliam and it seemed Williams would net the rebound to give Heanor victory, but the home skipper got up to save again, and Heanor’s late rally was brought to a spectacular conclusion three minutes into stoppage time when Jon Stevenson’s shot deflected off JOE HANLON, who knew little about it, and over Frost into the corner of the net.
Thus Heanor, who lost 1-0 on their first trip to Hinckley, suffered a similar fate once again at the Greene King Stadium, where they have yet to win.
Hinckley: Elliott Shilliam, Michael Reeves, Micky Crawford (Jack Woodhall 87), Richard Gerald, Dan Eden, Anthony Robinson, Jonathan Stevenson, Christopher Socket, Jermain Gordon, Joe Hanlon, Daniel Gallagher. Substitutes not used – Sam Burdett, Lee Connolly, Andy Harrison, Shannon Myring.
Heanor Town: Mark Frost, James Whitehead, Ryan Cancellara, Jamie Gee-Pemberton, Brett Peel, Lee Stevenson, Gary Webster (Richard Hodgman 45), Ash Grayson, Nathan Benger (Danny Williams 86), Jay Lee Hodgson, Graham Wells (Lee Askham 30). Substitutes not used – Danny Cox, Dave Moon.
Referee: Liam Jones (Leicester)
Attendance: no figure given. Headcount 45
Yellow Card: Dan Eden (Hinckley) foul on Richard Hodgman 74 minutes
Goals – Hinckley: Jermain Gordon (12), Joe Hanlon (42 and 90+3). Heanor Town: Lee Askham (32), James Whitehead (67 penalty).
Star Lion: Mark Frost