REDDITCH United were beaten by local rivals Bromsgrove Sporting as Nathan Hayward’s second-half goal condemned the Reds to a third consecutive league defeat.
Hayward settled a drab contest on 65 minutes as Redditch struggled to create a clear-cut opening in front of 1,253 supporters inside the Victoria Ground.
Both teams, and the officials, warmed up in white shirts adorning Rankin’s name with the number eight underneath after Redditch player Thomas Rankin died suddenly last weekend
A minute’s applause took place prior to kick-off in memory of Rankin, who played for both clubs, and was warmly received by both sets of supporters.
Bromsgrove started on the front foot when Josh Quaynor’s ball from the left was controlled by Callum Ebanks only for the striker to fire a tame effort straight at Kieran Boucher in the Reds goal.
The referee stopped play on eight minutes as players and fans joined together for a minute’s applause in memory of Rankin who wore the number for the Reds.
Sporting came forward again soon after when Quaynor’s driven shot from 25-yards out went a few yards wide of the post.
Bromsgrove continued to dominate the chances in a lacklustre game when Will Shorrock’s shot from 20-yards out went over Boucher’s bar.
And the Rouslers then spurned the game’s best opening when Joe Willis blazed over the bar and out of the ground from 12-yards out after Josh Dugmore released Shorrock on the break.
Redditch keeper Boucher then made a crucial intervention to prevent Sporting having a clear shot on goal when he raced off his line to tackle Jamie Molyneux well outside of his penalty area.
The Reds first shot on goal came from Ryan Edmunds in the latter stages of the half when he fired wildly out of the ground as both teams struggled to create clear-cut openings.
And the visitors ended the half strongly when Dan Sweeney blasted a shot into the side netting after good work from Kieron Dawes.
However, Sporting hit the crossbar with virtually the last touch of the half when Tom Taylor’s header came back off the woodwork from Willis’s corner before the same duo combined moments later.
The second-half burst into life when Sweeney broke free from the Bromsgrove defence before driving into the box and shooting across goal despite having Victor Sodeinde in support.
Bromsgrove almost found a way through when Willis exchanged passes out wide before jinking his way into the box and being denied by the body of Boucher.
And Sporting took the lead when Hayward turned the ball home from close range after Redditch failed to clear their lines at a corner.
The home side almost wrapped up the points soon after when Quaynor played in Shorrock down the left channel before the midfielder cut in and curled an effort inches past the post.
And Gavin Hurren’s side could have scored again in the closing stages when substitute Jonathan Letford saw his powerful shot on the turn pushed behind for a corner by Boucher low down to his left.
Bromsgrove keeper Ollie Taylor held a late free-kick into the box which was met by roars of approval from the Rouslers faithful as the whistle sounded moments later to ensure Sporting went home with the points with Reds striker Sweeney sent off after the final whistle for confronting the referee.