Hinckley back to winning ways and Mansfield win a thriller!
Mansfield ran out eventual winners following an incredible afternoon at the One Call Stadium and Hinckley RFC returned to winning ways in Sheffield whilst Derby County Ladies fixture fell foul of the weather.
An incredible afternoon of twists and turns at One Call Stadium ended with an injury-time winner from CJ Hamilton as Mansfield Town retained their place in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs with a 3-2 victory over Cheltenham Town.
On a cold January afternoon, it was a red hot game inside One Call Stadium during a match which had everything.
An eventful first period ended level at 1-1. Cheltenham took the lead in the 24th minute when midfielder Harry Pell converted a penalty past Mansfield goalkeeper Conrad Logan after Stags full-back Hayden White had tripped Mohamed Eisa.
That lead lasted for just ten minutes, however, as in the 34th minute, winger CJ Hamilton scored from close range after Your IT’s sponsored player Alfie Potter had done well down the right. More drama was to come when, just six minutes later, Cheltenham’s Taylor Moore was shown the red card for an elbow on Mansfield’s top scorer Danny Rose. Robins’ manager, Gary Johnson, was then also dismissed after an altercation with Stags’ assistant boss Paul Raynor.
The drama increased in the second half with two further red cards and three more goals. With Mansfield in the ascendancy, Hayden White was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Ilias Chatzitheodoridis. The dismissal gave Cheltenham encouragement and the Robins scored next to go back in front, Elijah Adebayo beating Logan at his near post.
It was announced earlier in the week that striker Kane Hemmings would be remaining with the Stags for the rest of the season and it was Hemmings that came off the bench to grab the equaliser in the 81st minute, netting from close range. Referee Darren Handley then produced another red card, sending off Chelmesfords Danny Wright for swinging an arm at Alfie Potter.
By this point, there had been enough drama for two games but it wasn’t finished yet. Deep into stoppage time, CJ Hamilton grabbed his second of the afternoon and secured a fantastic win for the Stags as they cemented their place in the play-off places.
Hinckley bounced back from last week’s last-minute heartbreak against Sedgley Park with a workmanlike performance in difficult conditions against Sheffield Tigers at Dore Moor. The bonus point victory keeps Hornets level on points with leaders Sale who demolished South Leicester 39-7 at Heywood Road to maintain their drive for promotion.
The Hornets opened their account on the quarter-hour mark when a tremendous run from veteran Scott Hamilton saw him held up just short of the line, eventually setting up Dave Peck to drive over from close in.
We had to wait until the 33rd minute for any further score and it was Hinckley who extended their lead when Callum Dacey punished Tigers with a penalty after they were penalised for diving over on their own 22m. A further infringement from Tigers following a sustained period of Hinckley pressure saw the Hornets set up another short-range lineout and Luke Coltman drove over to score. Dacey converted, giving Hinckley a 15-0 lead going into the half-time break.
The start of the second-half saw the Tigers enjoy their best period of the game, and it came as no surprise when Tigers Prop Will Bennett forced his way over the line to reduce the deficit.
Tigers continued to press and went close again after Dacey had been carded for an infringement, but good defensive work led to a turnover and Hinckley were able to clear their lines. Being down to 14 men seemed to galvanise the Hornets and in the 68th minute Martin picked up a loose ball from a Tigers scrum and scored under the posts, Joe Wilson converted to put the visitors 5-22 in the lead with just over 10 minutes to go.
That score seemed to break the Tigers resolve and Hornets pressed forward. First a clever kick over the top of the Tigers defence from Wilson resulted in Jonny Sykes, enjoying his first start for the Club, falling on the ball to claim a first try and secure the bonus point for Hornets. Then from the kick-off, Hornets collected the ball and an end to end move saw Martin break the Tigers defensive line from 10m to score under the posts. Wilson converted both tries to give Hornets victory 5-38.
Whilst it could be argued that the final score flattered Hinckley – the game being very much in the balance with 15 minutes to go – the manner in which Hornets simply demolished the Tigers defence in the final stages of the match perhaps demonstrated a level of fitness and professionalism that Tigers, in the end, could not match.
What is certain is that the result set up next week’s game against Sale superbly. Only points difference separates the two sides at the top of the division, although Sale do have a game in hand. Other results largely favoured the top two and we can look forward to what will be one of the most important games in Hinckley’s recent history. It promises to be a cracker. Kick-off is at 3.00pm.