Stratford Town 0
Redditch United 0
Evo-Stik South, Premier Division
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD made it two draws from their Bank Holiday fixtures as they fought out an entertaining but ultimately goal-less clash with local rivals Redditch at a sundrenched MoodChimp Stadium on Monday.
Carl Adams made two changes to Town’s starting line-up from Saturday with Jazz Luckie and Justin Marsden coming in for Loyiso Recci and Mike Taylor.
The Reds team included ex-Town striker Dior Angus, complete with a fetching new blonde hairstyle, who has made a blistering start to the season by topping the fledging Premier Division scorers table with five goals.
The two sides had experienced contrasting fortunes at the weekend with Town having a nightmare five-hour journey to Weymouth before conceding a heartbreak last-kick equaliser, while Redditch were enjoying all the comforts of home with a four-goal romp against Dorchester.
But it was Town who created the first opening when Saturday’s hero Charlie Evans surged down the right to slip the ball inside to Marsden who helped it on to Will Grocott whose cross was headed narrowly wide by Edwin Ahenkorah.
At the other end a perfectly-timed tackle from Andy Gallinagh prevented Angus from forcing his way through, before Town skipper James Fry threaded the ball through to Ahenkorah down the right and his cross was tantalisingly just out of the reach of the stretching Luckie.
A Fry drive from distance was then safely held by the well-positioned Reds keeper Ethan Ross, and as Town continued to push forward Luckie wasted a decent chance by delaying his shot and eventually being crowded out.
Ross then saved from Dan Summerfield on the 25 minute mark when the Reds struggled to clear a corner followed by another Fry effort fizzing narrowly over before the Reds nearest attempt yet came five minutes before the break when Orrin Pendley was not far away with a header from Andi Thanoj’s free-kick.
Town continued to look the more threatening of the two sides after the restart with Luckie forcing Ross into another save, but the clinical finish was missing as the Reds soaked up the Town pressure.
Fry almost made the breakthrough in the 65th minute when his close range shot was grabbed by Ross right on the line, but Town’s best chance so far arrived shortly after when substitute Mike Taylor’s persistence led to the loose ball falling kindly to Evans who lifted his shot over the bar with only Ross to beat.
Then with ten minutes left Taylor latched onto a deep cross from Evans and appeared to be impeded as he made room for a shot but his frantic penalty appeals were waved away by referee Richard Watson.
The Reds had hardly troubled Town keeper Louis Connor all afternoon. but with a minute of normal time remaining they almost stole the points when Danico Johnson was allowed to run on to a long clearance from Ross and his thunderous 20-yard drive cannoned against the bar and away to safety.
TOWN: Louis Connor, Charlie Evans, Lee Thomas, Andy Gallinagh, Dan Summerfield,, Liam Francis, Justin Marsden (Mike Taylor 62), James Fry (c), Jazz Luckie (James Hancocks 78), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah.
REDDITCH: Ethan Ross, Keenah Rosser, Nathan Fox, Danny Jackman (c), Guiyoulouwe Mallancol, Orrin Pendley, Kevin Monteiro (McKauley Manning 51), Pauly Apostolopoulos (Kaylum Mitchell 55), Dior Angus, Andi Thanoj, Spencer Weir-Daley (Danico Johnson 64).