REDDITCH United proved no match for promotion-chasing Slough Town as the Berkshire side eased to a 4-0 victory on home soil on Tuesday.
A depleted Reds squad were always likely to be tested to the limits against a Slough side who have lost just four league games this season and, with numerous games in hand, remain firmly in the hunt for the Southern League Premier Division title.
Redditch had a mountain to climb as soon as Ben Harris had taken advantage of Jim Mutton’s under-hit back pass to put the hosts ahead on eight minutes and, despite the best efforts of United keeper Ethan Ross, further goals from James Dobson and Warren Harris were added to by a late Mutton own goal on a night to forget for the visitors.
Tim Harris’ side will hope to have some bodies back for Saturday’s visit to Cambridgeshire to face lowly St Ives Town in a fixture which offers a more realistic chance of ending a seven-match run without a win.
Boss Harris has bolstered his squad this week with the addition of Josh Ezewele – twin brother of Reds defender Louis – on a month’s loan from Vanarama National League club AFC Fylde.
The full back moved to the Coasters in the summer of 2017 after completing a move from National League North outfit Kidderminster Harriers and will be drafted straight into the match day squad.
Fifteenth-placed Redditch were unfortunate not to take maximum points on Saturday when they had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Hitchin Town at the Trico Stadium (full report online).
The Reds twice led through newcomer Adam Davie and Stuart Fleetwood but playing most of the second half with ten men after young full back Jordan Miles’ red card finally proved too big a burden as Hitchin grabbed an 85th-minute equaliser to secure their first point of 2018.
Reds boss Tim Harris felt two big decisions went against his side – a handball decision which presented the Canaries with their first equaliser and then the sending-off of Miles for a late challenge on Lucas Fitzpatrick.
He had a point. They were both game-changing decisions from referee Scott Postin within a seven-minute spell when Redditch were in the ascendancy.
Adam Page, with his twinkling feet and direct running, was a constant threat and Fleetwood’s movement stretched the visitors, while Ash Sammons took on the quarter-back role in controlling the forward momentum.
Redditch took the lead with their first on-target effort on 15 minutes when Page glided past a couple of defenders cutting inside from the left, then set Fleetwood into the inside left channel and the striker unselfishly picked out Davie for a tap-in from eight yards past keeper Michael Johnson.
Hitchin levelled a minute into the second when the referee awarded a penalty for a handball in the Reds box and Fitzpatrick drilled home the spot-kick.
Seven minutes later, Hitchin had a further advantage when Miles, who had enjoyed a promising debut, lunged into Fitzpatrick with a late rather than vicious challenge and after a lengthy delay Postin pulled out the red card.
However, Redditch regained the lead on 75 minutes when Fleetwood smashed home a perfect volley after Danny Jackman’s free kick was only cleared to the edge of the area for his ninth goal since joining from Merthyr at the start of the year.
Five minutes from time though Hitchin restored parity again when substitute Patrick Tshikala’s effort was deflected amid a goalmouth scramble and defender Lewis Rolfe smashed home the bouncing ball.
REDS fans can have their say at a meet the chairman and manager event on Thursday, February 15 at 7.30pm in the Reds Bar.
Boss Harris will be giving his views of the club to date since his recent appointment and supporters will be able to ask the new gaffer questions.
Furthermore, chairman Chris Swan will be in attendance to outlay his plans for the club going forward, along with general manager David Tittershill.