12.2.2022

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Redditch United

Boothe (87)

Hednesford Town

Cater (85)

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Carter Lycett

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Stratford Town (A) 22.2.22

Despite taking the lead with only five minutes remaining, the Pitmen have to settle for a point at struggling Redditch United this afternoon as the hosts grab a late equaliser through substitute Ryan Boothe

Hednesford had endured another frustrating break to their league season after waiting a fortnight to return to action following a 2-1 win at Hitchin Town two weeks ago. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards was forced into one change to the XI that had started the win at the Pilot Field as Riley O'Sullivan had been ruled out due to injury, meaning a return to the side for Andre Landell up front. Meakin-Richards also named his two new signings Cameron Ebbutt and Lewis Hayden amongst the substitutes alongside the returning Callam Mendez-Jones

Redditch - currently sitting in sixteenth place in the table - had come away from fellow strugglers Barwell with a 1-1 draw last weekend, with manager Matt Clarke making two changes to his side for today's game as Theo Rowe and Bernard Mensah came in for Dennis Digie and Boothe. There were a plethora of former Hednesford men in the Reds' ranks, with Dan Sweeney, Aram Soleman, Kieron Dawes and Calum Flanagan all starting the game, whilst old stager Asa Charlton was amongst the substitutes. It was a special day for the Flanagan family, with Calum coming face-to-face with his younger brother Reece for the Pitmen

On a cold and drizzly afternoon in Worcestershire, it was a cagey start to proceedings from both sides as the first ten minutes of the game went by without a chance at either end. Former Pitman Soleman's pass into the feet of Sweeney in the eleventh minute saw the striker take the ball into his stride and enter the Hednesford penalty area, only for a timely block from skipper Lewis Ison to deny Sweeney a goal against his former team

Neat play from the Pitmen three minutes later saw them work the ball well down the left flank through Carter Lycett and George Cater, with Cater pulling a low ball back into the feet of Reece Flanagan on the edge of the penalty area. The midfielder took a touch and struck a low shot at goal that was blocked by Redditch skipper Ryan Wollacott

In the sixteenth minute, Landell found himself in space to latch onto a through ball from Todd Parker, making his way into the penalty area but drilling his low shot straight into the arms of goalkeeper Kieran Boucher as it bounced through to the stopper

The hosts thought that they had taken the lead midway through the first half as Calum Flanagan met a Ryan Edmunds free-kick inside the Hednesford penalty area and glanced his header past Joe O'Shaughnessy from eight yards out, only for the assistant on the far side to deny the defender a goal against his former club due to an earlier offside decision

Two minutes later, Martin Riley's loose pass out of defence was picked up by Rowe, who played the ball out to debutant Edmunds and on to Dawes; his through ball found Sweeney just outside the penalty area, turning past Riley and forcing O'Shaughnessy into a parry at his near post before Parker cleared the dangerThe Pitmen moved the ball well out of their own half and out to the left-wing, where Lycett picked the ball up and tried his luck from twenty-five yards out, only for Wollacott to deflect his effort just wide of goal for another corner kick

From the resultant Parker corner kick, Reece Flanagan test the reflexes of Boucher once more as he drove in a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that forced the Reds stopper into a save inside his six-yard box

Former Redditch man Chay Tilt made an enterprising run down the right-wing just before the half-hour mark, playing Wes Atkinson in on the overlap whose low cross was turned behind by Callum Flanagan as he got in front of the looming presence of Landell at the near post

Three minutes later, Kyle Bennett picked the ball up from Atkinson in a pocket of space just outside the Redditch penalty area and played a neat reverse pass into the path of Landell, whose shot on the turn bobbled well wide of goal

The Pitmen were forced into a substitution on thirty-eight minutes after veteran defender Riley landed heavily on his left arm as he challenged for a high ball and was forced off holding his left arm with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder; he was replaced by the fit-again Mendez-Jones at centre-back

On forty minutes, Sweeney won a free-kick for the hosts out on the right after being brought down by Mendez-Jones; Edmunds swung in another excellent free-kick but the gusty wind carried his ball narrowly over the heads of all of the players entering the six-yard box and dipped just wide of goal

Parker picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon on forty-two minutes for hauling down Mensah just inside the Hednesford half as the striker looked to break quickly

With the very last attack of the first half, the Pitmen had their best chance of the afternoon so far as patient build-up play down the right from Cater and Atkinson saw the visitors wait for the space to become available for Flanagan, whose pass into the feet of Landell saw the striker shoot from the edge of the penalty area and see his dipping effort narrowly miss the target

It had been, in truth, a very lacklustre first-half showing from both sides, with a distinct lack of quality being shown from either XI in and around the opposition penalty area

Cater made a darting run down the left for the Pitmen just four minutes after the restart after winning the ball from Dawes, taking the ball past Wollacott as he drifted across the face of the penalty area before curling his effort beyond Boucher and wide of the far post

More patient build-up play from the Pitmen three minutes later saw Tilt, Atkinson and Landell all involved before Landell played a delightful reverse pass into the path of Parker, whose shot was deflected inches wide of the far post from eight yards out

On-loan Wolves goalkeeper O'Shaughnessy made his first save of note in the game on fifty-six minutes as he acrobatically tipped Mensah's goalbound header over the crossbar after another excellent Edmunds free-kick had found his fellow debutant unmarked six yards out

A minute later, Hednesford manager Meakin-Richards was shown a yellow card by Mr Clarke for speaking out of term one time too many for the referee or his assistant's linking

Reece Flanagan followed his manager into the referee's notebook on fifty-eight minutes as he was booked by Mr Clarke for a foul on Soleman to stop the midfielder from making a move forwards

The Pitmen's second substitution of the afternoon came just before the hour mark as the ineffective Bennett was taken off in favour of new boy Hayden in midfield

Hayden was immediately involved for his new club as he volleyed a high ball into the path of Cater on sixty-two minutes, who tricked his way into the penalty area down the left once more as he drifted past Dawes but could not apply the finish as his weak shot was easily saved by Boucher

Cater should have given the men in sky blue the lead midway through the second half as he was played clean through on goal by Reece Flanagan's slide-rule pass, but the winger got caught in two minds before shooting and allowed Boucher to make the save

Landell saw his one chance of the second half come and go on sixty-nine minutes after Tilt's neat pass played the striker into the Redditch penalty area, only for a group of men in red shirts to get across and block the striker's path to goal. The hosts broke quickly down the right through Soleman, who played Mensah into space - he cut across Ison and tried his luck with an angled drive from the edge of the penalty area that was comfortably saved by O'Shaughnessy

A quick break from the Pitmen on seventy-four minutes saw Cater once more the architect as he ran onto Landell's flick-on before playing fellow winger Tilt into space down the right, only for Boucher to make the save at his near post to claim Tilt's low drive. Rowe was retrospectively booked by Mr Clarke for a foul on Hayden in the build-up to Tilt's chance before play could restart

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, the Pitmen's final substitution of the afternoon saw the luckless Tilt brought off in favour of the Pitmen's other new acquisition Ebbutt

Mendez-Jones was shown the final yellow card of the afternoon on seventy-eight minutes as he was rightly booked by the referee for fouling Boothe thirty yards from goal

 

Redditch substitute Boothe scuffed a shot wide for the hosts a minute later after Dawes had clipped the ball up to the striker and had caught Ison ball-watching just outside his own penalty area

On eighty-three minutes, Atkinson's cross was cleared as far as Parker, who laid the ball off to Reece Flanagan; he held the ball and waited for the excellent Lycett to make room for himself, only for the left-back to strike his effort high and wide of goal from twenty yards out

With five minutes remaining, the Pitmen grabbed the all-important opener that they thought would earn them all three points at this point in the game; Lycett took the ball down the left and cut inside, taking it across the face of the penalty area before curling a shot beyond the reach of Boucher and against the foot of the far post. Cater followed the ball back in and tucked away the rebound for his second goal of the season

However, the hosts had other ideas and struck back with an almost immediate equaliser just two minutes later; left-back Lewis Hudson picked up the ball down the flank and sent over a cross that was deflected up in the air by Atkinson, forcing O'Shaughnessy to palm the ball away under his crossbar but only as far as Boothe, who followed the ball in and volleyed the rebound home from six yards out

A point apiece does little to improve either side's position in the league; the Pitmen remain in ninth place in the league table and are now twelve points behind the in-form AFC Rushden & Diamonds who occupy the final play-off spot. On the positive side, it is now six games unbeaten in the league for Meakin-Richards' side, although four of those games have been draws. They return to the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park on Tuesday night for the first time in over three weeks as they face another local rival in the form of Stourbridge, who are a couple of points behind the Pitmen in the league table

Redditch United: Boucher, Dawes (Digie 90), Hudson, Soleman, C. Flanagan, Wollacott ©, Rowe , Williams (Byrne 68), Sweeney (Boothe 68), Mensah, Edmunds      Subs Unused: Charlton, Cox

Hednesford Town: O'Shaughnessy, Atkinson, Lycett, Riley (Mendez-Jones 38 ), Ison ©, R. Flanagan , Cater, Parker , Landell, Bennett (Hayden 58), Tilt (Ebbutt 75)      Subs Unused: Armitage, Clarkson

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