Redditch United 7 Farnborough 1
Southern League Premier Division
THE biggest question after the departure of any club’s top scorer is: how do you fill his boots?
Dior Angus’ goal-laden season earned him a professional move to Port Vale but it was a striker who has already been there, done that who slotted impressively into the Redditch United No 9 shirt.
Within 60 minutes of his home debut, Stuart Fleetwood had bagged four goals and sparked a dazzling display to seal the Reds’ biggest league win of the season – and all this after they had fallen behind.
With a goal on his debut for the lively Adam Page, plus strikes for defender Marcel Simpson and full back Lewis Wright, it was a cracking way to give new boss Tim Harris his first victory in charge since replacing Darren Byfield.
Harris admitted it has been a time of turmoil for the Reds, with four players making their home debuts, but he was naturally delighted with the performance and dedicated the win to the Reds fans.
They have found a new hero in 31-year-old Fleetwood after his arrival from Merthyr Town. The striker has an impressive CV with spells at Charlton Athletic, Luton Town, Forest Green Rovers, Hereford and Cardiff and such know-how provided the finishing touch to some slick passing, smart movement and razor-sharp play.
“Stuart has always been a goalscorer,” said Harris. “When he works as hard as he did on Saturday he gets his reward because he has got plenty of quality.
“As long as we can get the ball in the right areas, Stuart will get goals, but it all comes down to having a good work ethic.”
Fleetwood took the man of the match award but it was far from a one-man show. Ashley Sammons and Danny Jackman gradually took control of midfield and the pace of Page, on loan from Cheltenham Town, Edji Mbunga and Tristian Dunkley ripped open Farnborough time and again.
However, it was the visitors who struck first, with Josh Huggins ghosting in unmarked to meet a far-post corner from Nic Ciardini and knee the ball over the line on 11 minutes.
The advantage, however, lasted only two minutes before Page slotted home when Simpson nodded back Sammons’ free kick to equalise.
From another free kick, this time from Jackman, centre back Simpson again got to the far post to convert before Fleetwood made it 3-1 just before half time, providing a simple finish after Page crossed from the left.
Page claimed another assist after crossing for Fleetwood to nod in from six yards five minutes into the second half before Mbunga’s through ball sent his fellow striker charging through and he slotted home with the minimum of fuss.
Another ball over the top was again collected by Fleetwood to lob keeper Pat O’Flaherty to make it 6-1 on the hour but the best goal was yet to come.
That followed on 80 minutes when Wright made it a magnificent seven, taking another perfectly weighted Sammons pass and cutting inside to drill home a low shot.
“I’ve got to dedicate that performance to the supporters,” said Harris. “They’ve stuck by the club. They’ve had a tough time.
“Things haven’t been right on and off the pitch in terms of players and performances.
“This was for the supporters. I thank them for the support they have given me since I’ve been at the club.”