Stratford Town 2 Redditch United 4
Southern League Premier Division
DARREN BYFIELD must think this managing lark is easy. Two matches, two wins and Redditch are one of only five teams with maximum points in the Southern Premier.
Of course, the new Reds boss knows football is never quite that simple, but the beaming smile after Tuesday night’s victory at the DCS Stadium reflected his satisfaction with the job so far.
There is plenty of work ahead but the Reds ruthlessly punished Stratford’s woeful defending with goals from Danico Johnson, Reece Hewitt, Javia Roberts and Liam Spink.
At 2-1 when former Reds defender Jordan Cullinane-Liburd netted for Stratford and then at 3-2 when Richard Gregory pounced for the hosts, Redditch faced growing pressure.
However, like Saturday’s 3-1 win against Chesham United, they managed to keep the opposition at arm’s length and their counter-attacking prowess again provided a killer last-minute goal with the weekend creator, Liam Spink, this time the finisher.
Former Reds boss Liam McDonald and ex-United defender Jim Mutton were in the crowd to watch their old team, who took charge with two goals in the first six minutes.
The first goal came after just one minute, 40 seconds when Johnson pounced on Emmitt Delfouneso’s error ten metres outside the penalty area and slammed his shot from 16 yards under keeper Niall Cooper.
The second came after Stratford were caught like rabbits in the headlights as a flowing move ripped the defence apart. Max Loveridge found Hewitt just inside the area and the summer signing from Bromsgrove Sporting guided his shot expertly into the far corner.
Only the post denied former Birmingham City striker Clinton Morrison a third Reds’ goal but Town gradually came into the came and pulled a goal back on 25 minutes.
Will Grocott provided a perfect cross from the right and Cullinane-Liburd soared above the Reds defence to send a magnificent header into the roof of the net.
Town striker Mike Taylor fired just over but instead the Reds were next on target just before the break.
Town gave the ball away in midfield and Reds substitute Reece Hales – on for the injured Eli Bako – charged forward before clipping a neat pass into the inside left channel for Roberts to guide home precisely.
Inevitably, Stratford had the bulk of possession after the break, but Reds keeper Brad Catlow was well placed to grab Taylor’s header and Grocott’s 25-yarder before Delfouneso fired a low shot a foot wide.
Finally Stratford broke through when Gregory marked his 100th appearance for Town with his 67th goal on 76 minutes after Kieren Westwood found him on the edge of the area.
Town pushed again to level and Catlow tipped over a rising strike from substitute and former Red Edwin Ahenkorah but, just like Saturday against Chesham, Reds replied with a late, late clincher.
Johnson outmuscled two Town defenders to cut in from the left and pick out Spink for a thunderous finish into the roof of the net from eight yards.
REDs: Catlow, Young, McDonald, Courtney, Jones, Hewitt, Loveridge (Spink 69), Roberts, Bako (Hales 26), Morrison (Luckie 63), Johnson. Subs not used: Cowley, Dudley.