BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Stratford Town 2 (Thompson-Brown 70, Perry 90+6)
Redditch United 0
Report by Craig Gibbons
STRATFORD Town moved a step closer to securing their place in the Southern Premier Central for a further year with a battling 2-0 victory over bottom-of-the-table Redditch United.
In one of just five games in the division that managed to beat Storm Dennis, Paul Davis’s men had to adapt to the difficult conditions to claim back-to-back wins and back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.
After a goalless first half, Town took the lead with 20 minutes left when Rob Thompson-Brown’s driven free-kick from the edge of the area was spilled into the net by Kieran Boucher.
The hosts then bagged their second with the last kick of the game when Kyle Perry had the simplest of finishes after Kynan Isaac’s initial shot had been pushed onto the crossbar.
Victory for the Blues sees them move nine points clear of the bottom three with 11 games remaining.
Town’s excellent team of volunteers, led by Mark Bickley, worked hard to get the game on, with the pitch passing two inspections before being given the thumbs up by match referee Niall Smith.
Boss Davis made four changes to the team which claimed a 1-0 win at Biggleswade Town on 1st February with Rhys Davies, Cody Fisher, Thompson-Brown and Perry all coming in for James Pardington, Mo Sebbeh-Njie, Javia Roberts and Dan Sweeney.
Davies, who has joined on loan from Leicester City until the end of the season, was the seventh goalkeeper to be used by Town this campaign while Fisher returned to the Arden Garages Stadium from fellow league rivals Stourbridge.
And it was Town who were first to threaten in the tenth minute when Isaac’s wayward shot was kept in by the wind and the follow-up effort from Thompson-Brown deflected behind for a corner.
Six minutes later the hosts wasted an even bigger chance to seize the advantage when the unmarked Leam Howards missed a simple header from six yards out after connecting with Fisher’s inch-perfect cross from the left-hand side.
And just seconds later Town thought they had taken the lead when Perry tapped in from close range after Kieran Boucher parried Thomspon-Brown’s curling effort, but the ‘goal’ was chalked off for offside.
Redditch arrived into this match on the back of 24 straight defeats, but they had a good sight of goal in the 20th minute when a mistake at the back allowed Taimoor Hussain to race clear, but Dan Vann made a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent the forward from getting a shot off.
The Reds were proving to be a tough nut to crack in the difficult playing conditions, but they struggled to get out of their own half as Town started to push the visitors back deeper and deeper.
However, Town could not make the most of this period of the game, with Isaac and Perry seeing shots blocked while Reece Flanagan curled over from 20 yards out with five minutes of the half remaining.
Another chance came the way of the hosts two minutes before the break when Isaac set Fisher free down the left, but his low drive from a tight angle was well saved by the legs of Boucher.
Playing into the wind, Town continued the second half from where they left off in the first and they came close to opening the scoring nine minutes after the restart.
Isaac saw his free-kick from the right side of the box pushed away by Boucher and the follow-up effort from Flanagan was superbly blocked on the line.
Boucher was certainly keeping the Reds in the game and he had to plunge to his right to stop Flanagan’s low drive from the edge of the area nestling in the bottom corner with an hour on the clock.
It took until the 62nd minute for the visitors to register their first shot of the game, but Thomas Rankin blazed horribly over from 20 yards out.
Eight minutes later, though, an unfortunate error from Boucher gave Town the lead.
Thompson-Brown’s 25-yard free-kick was hit low and hard, but Boucher made a meal of the save, with the ball squirming through his hands and into the back of the net.
The Reds – who had certainly improved since the reverse fixture in January – continued to plug away to get something from the game, but in the sixth minute of stoppage time Town sealed the three points.
A swift counter-attack ended with Isaac’s low drive saved by the boot of Boucher, but the ball looped high into the air, bounced back off the crossbar and kindly into the path of Perry who couldn’t miss from point-blank range.
TOWN: Rhys Davies, Daniel Vann, Cody Fisher, Courtney Richards, Michael Townsend, Kyle Rowley, Rob Thompson-Brown (Bekir Halil 87), Reece Flanagan (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 81), Kyle Perry, Leam Howards (Kyle Ambris 90+3), Kynan Isaac. Unused subs: David Pitt, Dominic Perkins.
UNITED: Kieran Boucher, Tyreece Kennedy-Williams, Lance Moyo (Hostidio Santos 55), Sheldon Tweedie, Joshua Endall, Benjamin Birch, Alexander Yearwood (Joshua Harris-James 61), Thomas Rankin, Jaden Owusu-Nepaul, Romario Martin, Taimoor Hussain. Unused subs: Ryan Pratt, Joel Whittingham, Moises Dominguez Castro.