BILLY Kee’s 68th-minute penalty denied Redditch United all three points in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Coalville Town.
The former Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion forward struck just four minutes after debutant Tiago Nassunculo had given the Reds the lead in Leicestershire with a well-struck drive that whistled into the bottom corner.
While greater glories were on the cards, there is no doubting that Matt Clarke’s men will be content with a point away to a side that were deeply embroiled in the Southern League Premier Central play-off race last term – not to mention United’s unbeaten streak being maintained.
It was very much a cagey start from both sides at the Mander Cruikshank Solicitors Stadium, with neither side able to ask any real questions of the other apart from speculative attempts from range.
Kyle Copp went close for the visiting Reds, while Kee gave a first indication of his goal threat with a lob over Kieran Boucher that went over the bar.
Further chances for Nassunculo – who clipped the outside of the post – and Coalville winger Luke Shaw with two carbon-copy efforts that flew narrowly off-target followed, as the game began to slowly hot up approaching the half-way point.
That momentum from both sides did not transfer across to the second period initially when the game resumed, with some more sluggish play in the early exchanges.
While Coalville had a couple of half chances, it was the away side who hit the front first, courtesy of Nassunculo’s drive into the far corner that crept out of Sean Bowles’ reach.
Redditch’s joy was shortlived however, as a foul on Kalern Thomas inside the penalty area allowed the experienced Kee to send Boucher the wrong way and level.
The woodwork was rattled just seconds later when Copp curled a free-kick goalwards down the other end, being unfortunate not to put the Reds back in front from 20 yards out.
Boucher’s stint between the sticks was brought to an early end heading towards the final ten minutes, when a dislocated finger forced his substitution. Oliver Taylor took his place, making his first appearance this season.
With little time remaining, Copp was nearly the hero with a strike that seemed destined to hit the back of the net – only to be kept out by Thomas’ last-ditch intervention to save the hosts.
Redditch now turn their attentions to a friendly at Walsall Wood on Saturday (3pm) in a meeting which pits them against former manager Darren Byfield.
With no FA Cup fixture this weekend due to the club’s early elimination, the Reds aim to keep match fitness high ahead of back-to-back league games at the Trico Stadium next week.
First, United welcome another unbeaten side in Rushall Olympic on Tuesday night (7.45pm), followed by a meeting with Biggleswade Town a week on Saturday, October 10 (3pm).
The club received positive news regarding Boucher, who is set to be available for the forthcoming games after no fracture was sustained, whilst four new arrivals are imminent in the coming days.
Full-back Taylor Morrison has left the club meanwhile, having only made one substitute appearance in the opening game of the season.