Redditch slip to defeat on opening day
Joe Stokes and Leam Howards two second half strikes proved to be mere consolation goals as Redditch United opened up the new Evo-Stik Southern Premier Central Division season with defeat at Rushden & Diamonds.
New boss Paul Davis took charge of his first competitive game since being appointed Reds boss, and he named 13 new faces in the 16-man matchday squad after a summer of upheaval at the Trico Stadium.
It proved to be a tricky afternoon in front of a crowd of 592 at Hayden Road, as Rushden burst out of the traps to score twice early on and led by three goals at the break.
Their attacking onslaught continued in the second half as they added two more to their tally, but Stokes and Howards both found the net as Redditch looked to narrow the final score line.
From as early as the third minute Rushden went ahead. Jack Bowen diverted the ball in from a set piece to break the deadlock and it was two minutes later as Ben Farrell reacted well to finish.
It was a major early setback and the Northamptonshire side looked deadly going forward, though Redditch did force opportunities themselves. Stokes was denied by a Ben Heath save, new signing Stefan Moore was denied and Howards also hammered over the bar from inside the box.
Rushden killed the game off though just before half time as Ben Diamond’s darting run ended with a low strike that skittled in.
Redditch faced an uphill task in the second half, and after some early breathing space they were punished by a fourth goal for the hosts – Diamond grabbed his second of the afternoon from close range.
It was five only minutes later. This time Tom Lorraine got in on the goal scoring act as the home sides power going forward threatened to see them run riot.
With just over quarter of an hour to go the Rushden net was breached for the first time when Stokes scored the pick of the afternoon’s goals with a superb free kick which flew into the top corner from 30 yards.
And the former Forest Green Rovers man played a part in his side’s only other goal. His shot on 90 minutes hammered against the post, and Howards was on hand to drive in the rebound to net Redditch’s second.
It was a disappointing opening to the season for the Reds who still managed to score twice away from home, but will hope to earn their first win on Tuesday evening when Barwell are the visitors to the Trico Stadium.