Redditch United 1, Hemel Hempstead 0
Redditch United put in an inspired display to condemn runaway leaders Hemel Hempstead to only their sixth Calor Southern Premier defeat of the campaign, writes Lewis Cox.
Ashley Sammons scored the only goal of the game for Liam McDonald’s men as they bounced back in style from cup heartache earlier in the week.
The Reds’ boss wanted a reaction full of ‘desire, effort and spirit’ against the champions elect and his side responded accordingly.
The visitors went close early on when 30-goal Ben Mackey curled an effort just wide of the angle, prompting an immaculate showing from James Mutton and Calum Flanagan in Redditch’s backline.
The ever-improving Jermaine Hylton never stopped, working tirelessly and proving just as effective with his direct attacking play.
He was unfortunate to be pulled back by the referee’s whistle after seemingly being put through on goal, before Omari Sterling-James fired over on 15 minutes.
At the other end Bradley Catlow was on top form to save well at Mackey’s feet.
On 30 minutes the free-scoring Hemel appeared to have taken the lead – only for Lewis Toomey’s header to be ruled out for offside.
Hylton’s mazy run drew a near-post save from Laurie Walker just before the break and Mutton’s excellent intervention seven minutes into the second period again denied Toomey before Sammons’ finishing was left wanting.
With ten minutes to go Catlow’s sprawling save denied Mackey before, on 84 minutes, the Reds finally broke the deadlock. Sam Youngs’ low strike came back off the post into the path of a grateful Sammons whose finish sent United to within three points of tenth-placed Weymouth.
Reds: Catlow 8, Recci 7, Caines 7, Flanagan 8, Mutton 8, Williams 7, Oshungbure 7, Youngs 7, Sammons 8, HYLTON 9 (Headley 90), Sterling-James 7 (Ahenkorah 70, 6). Subs (not used): Loveridge, Bridgwater, Hornby