BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Redditch United 0
Stratford Town 2 (Sweeney 33 pen 80)
Report by Craig Gibbons
DAN SWEENEY struck twice to give Stratford Town their first away win of the season and condemn bottom-of-the-table Redditch United to a 19th consecutive league defeat.
At the 12th time of asking, Town finally got their first three points on the road and it was just the second time this season that the Blues had kept a clean sheet.
Former Reds striker Sweeney opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute before bagging his second ten minutes from time after capitalising on United’s inability to clear Reece Flanagan’s corner.
Victory at the Trico Stadium moved Town up to 18th in the Southern Premier Central standings and five points above the drop zone going into this Saturday’s trip to AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Paul Davis made three changes to the team which lost to Stourbridge on Saturday, with Wolves loanee James Pardington replacing Sam Lomax between the sticks, Ross Oulton’s return from suspension meant Mo Sebbeh-Njie was dropped to the bench, as was Lewis Wilson whose place was taken by the returning Kynan Isaac.
As expected between two sides fighting for their lives, the opening exchanges were fairly scrappy and it took until the tenth minute for Town to register their first shot on goal, with Sweeney’s ambitious 25-yard lob sailing over the bar.
But seven minutes later the visitors wasted a huge chance to break the deadlock.
Flanagan’s deep corner travelled all the way to the back post where a completely unmarked Dan Vann had all the time in the world to score, but he miscued his effort and headed over.
And just a couple of minutes later Daniel Alessi blazed over from two yards out when it seemed harder to miss.
Town continued to come forward and their pressure was rewarded in the 33rd minute when the hard-working Sweeney was fouled in the area by Ronnie Hendricks.
The Solihull Moors loanee dusted himself off to take the spot-kick himself, sending Kieran Boucher the wrong way and slotting the ball into the bottom corner to give Town a priceless lead.
By this point the Reds were struggling to get out their own half as Town were settling into their rhythm, and it needed a goal-line clearance from Tyreece Kennedy-Williams to stop Sweeney’s glancing header from finding the top corner.
And from the ensuing set-piece Oulton saw his diving header sail over the bar, as Town wasted another gilt-edged chance to double their lead, with the visitors having to settle for just one goal to their name at the sound of the half-time whistle.
The Reds were first to threaten after the break, with an early corner from the right-hand side falling to Gratias Katega, but his volley was skewed wide of the mark.
Five minutes later Oulton went on a mazy run through the Redditch defence, only to blaze horribly over from the edge of the penalty area.
Town continued to push for the killer second goal and just before the hour mark they had a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area after Isaac was brought down, but Flanagan’s fizzing shot was expertly tipped round the post by Boucher.
For all their dominance in the attacking third, Town could not find that decisive second goal, with Roberts next to try his luck from a tight angle after being played through by Flanagan, but his shot hit the side-netting.
Roberts’s pace was certainly causing the hosts all sorts of problems and another surging run saw the lively winger cut inside and curl a left-footed shot off target.
With just one goal in it, Redditch knew they could still salvage something and they missed the golden chance to draw level 13 minutes from time.
Some lax Town defending allowed Luke Shearer to break free down the left, but he could only lash his shot into the side-netting.
Chance after chance continued to go the way of Town and they finally got that second goal ten minutes from time.
Flanagan’s out-swinging corner was not dealt with properly by the Redditch defence, allowing Sweeney to swivel on the ball and smash it home into the bottom corner to secure the three points for Town.
REDDITCH: Kieran Boucher, Tyreece Kennedy-Williams, Ronnie Hendricks, Ben Stokes (Joshua Harris-James 68), Josh Endall, Benjamin Birch, Gratias Katega, Thomas Rankin, Brandon Diau, Jaden Owusu-Nepaul (Randane Larmond 73), Luke Shearer. Unused subs: James Johnson, Adam Marusiak, Mason Birch.
TOWN: James Pardington, Daniel Vann, Kai Woollard-Innocent, Courtney Richards, Daniel Alessi, Kyle Rowley, Kynan Isaac, Ross Oulton, Daniel Sweeney, Reece Flanagan (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 86), Javia Roberts (Lewis Wilson 79). Unused subs: William Davidson, Gedeon Okito, Charles Ten-Grotenhuis.