Reds Share The Spoils Against Hard-working Stratford Town
While this game is unlikely to go down as a classic, manager Darren Byfield was understandably happy with a share of the spoils against a tough hard-working Stratford side and after his free-scoring strike force had dominated the headlines for the last few games, this time it was the rearguard earning the plaudits.
From the impressive Danny Jackman in the heart of midfield through to the calming figure of Ethan Ross between the posts, the Reds looked assured with rookie defender Orrin Pendley again producing a performance far beyond his years.
Stratford shaded the early opportunities thanks to the tireless running of wing backs Charlie Evans and Lee Thomas. Former Redditch pair Edwin Ahenkorah and Jazz Luckie both had chances with the latter going closest when he nipped in front of Ross only to divert a Thomas cross into the side-netting.
But as half-time approached, the Reds created some chances of their own with Pendley putting a header wide from an Andi Thanoj free-kick before Jackman curled another free-kick just wide of the target.
The other notable thing just before the break was the booking picked up by Nathan Fox – the first yellow card for the Reds in more than 400 minutes!
The second half followed in a similar vein with the hosts having the better of the early chances. Ahenkorah had a couple of long-range efforts which were easily dealt with by Ross who then did well to keep out a scrambled effort from Stratford skipper James Fry midway through the half.
The game had delivered little in the way of goalmouth action but the dying seconds saw both sides go close to snatching the victory.
Substitute Kaylum Mitchell put an effort just wide of the Stratford target on 87 minutes and then, three minutes later, fellow substitute Danico Johnson crashed a 25-yard shot against the bar after being sent free by Pendley’s ball upfield.
Deep in injury time Stratford almost broke the deadlock when Will Grocutt let fly with a fierce shot that hit Pendley before being cleared away.