A routine win for United under the floodlights on a chilly Tuesday night against a very poor Hinckley side destined to be involved in the end-of-season relegation scrap. Two errors in defence gifted the Pilgrims a half-time advantage, which was explosively extended by the in-form Spencer Weir-Daley after the break.
Hinckley’s defence was a comedy of errors at times with goalkeeper Nathan Thackeray clown-in-chief. You have to feel partly responsible when you’ve recently stolen their first choice stopper (Dan Haystead) but the taunts of ‘Hinckley’s Number Two’ tumbling down from the Town End after each misguided clearance were not just mean-spirited but, on this evidence, prescient. Thackeray needs to be told to curtail his generosity now that the festive period has passed or lose his place.
Loose defending meant United had already struck the crossbar by the time Jamie Yates’s cross looped in off the boot of Hinckley defender Callum Burgess to open the scoring. With goalkeeper hopelessly positioned, the ball bobbled over the line almost in slow motion and I indulged in possibly the slowest celebratory raising of arms ever.
United attacked in waves, with a number of assaults starting when Thackeray’s kicks landed at the feet of a yellow-shirted player, and should have been at least three goals up by the time Suarez made it 2-0. Again it came gift-wrapped, with the keeper’s attempted clearance striking the Spaniard, allowing him to chase the ball down and roll it home.
Weir-Daley, in a rich vein of tap-in form, saved the best until last. His angled shot flashed into the bottom corner just after the hour mark, a fifth goal in five matches for the league’s only gangster striker.
No doubt counting the pennies from a series of recent postponements, and grateful for an upcoming run of four home fixtures across two competition, chairman David Newton and the Board couldn’t have failed to notice the poor attendance. Just 955 hardy souls, including about eight from Leicestershire, bothered to turn up.
Though the conditions were a million miles away from that balmy night earlier in the season when Anthony Church’s goal split the teams, the huge swathes of empty terracing were a disappointing sight. It was hard to get any kind of noise going and Rob Scott’s point that the atmosphere at home is not exactly febrile was brought to mind. I guess economic constraints mean some supporters must pick and choose their games as we enter this crucial period of the season.
And remarkably, the sides above us continue to keep winning. Before each round of fixtures, a cursory glance of the fixture list never fails to identify a possibility that Alfreton, Guiseley, Nuneaton or Telford might drop points and yet they never do. They are absolutely relentless and we already have a mini-league amongst the top five. Three of those four won 2-0 last night. Despite such impressive form, United can draw heart from the fact that Guiseley, Telford and Alfreton have yet to visit York Street and these games will no doubt decide who goes up automatically and who must enter the lottery of the play-offs.
Next Match: One last game before my return to Sheffield – Boston United vs. Gloucester City in the second round of the FA Trophy on Saturday.