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Stourbridge 1 Redditch United 0
5:58pm Wednesday 26th December 2012 in Sport
JAMES McPike scored the only goal four minutes from time to deny Redditch United a point at Stourbridge.
The striker came off the bench to score his first goal for the Glassboys, ending the visitors’ stubborn resistance.
Reds keeper Brad Catlow was in fine form as he pulled off fine saves to deny Drew Canavan, Leon Broadhurst and Luke Benbow.
But his resistance was finally broken when McPike headed home from Ben Billingham’s free-kick.
It was a goal celebrated with palpable relief by the Glassboys players, management and fans, on an afternoon which for a long time looked like ending in frustration.
In varying degrees of rain on a sodden pitch, Stour had attacked the visiting goal again and again but were repelled by disciplined defending and some superb keeping from Catlow.
Redditch unquestionably came for a point, taking more than an hour to generate their first attempt on goal. But for the intervention of McPike, they would have got it.
The first half featured two real moments of excitement and anyone arriving late would have missed the first, coming as it did in the second minute. Lee Osborne’s cross was missed by everyone before being brought down by Canavan at the far post, whose fierce shot was tipped over smartly by Catlow.
That was the closest the hosts came to breaking the deadlock until just before the half hour, when Billingham unleashed a fierce effort from 25 yards out which crashed off the underside of the bar, with Catlow a relieved spectator.
Redditch’s keeper didn’t always look assured, particularly when awkwardly pushing a first time Sean Geddes over the bar, or forcing a Luke Benbow cross behind for a corner.
But at least he was involved, which is more than you can say for his side’s attacking players, as the visitors failed to mount a cohesive or serious attack of note throughout the entire first period.
Stour began the second half in purposeful fashion and Benbow had already seen a shot deflected wide when Catlow pulled off a superb save at full strength to keep out Broadhurst’s header from Osborne’s cross.
Benbow was also off target with an elaborate flicked attempt, before Redditch finally managed their first attempt on goal just past the hour mark, Leavi Oshungbure firing badly wide from a good position after latching onto Stuart Hendrie’s through ball.
Whatever their failings in attack, the visitors defending could not be faulted and it took a neat flick from substitute Marvin Nisbett to open them up again, with Benbow again denied by Catlow.
Stour introduced McPike as they continued to search for the breakthrough and he almost provided it, sending a fizzing shot just over the crossbar. The striker also had an effort blocked as the rain began to fall heavier and the tension increased.
Finally, with four minutes to go and the rain almost ceased, came the breakthrough. Billingham chipped in a free-kick from the wing and McPike got to the ball first among a crowd of players, steering it past Catlow to spark scenes of celebration and undoubted relief.
Nisbett almost doubled the winning margin with the final kick but sent his shot wide of the near post.
GLASSBOYS: Solly, Canavan (Nisbett 64), Hurren, McCone (c), Geddes (Fitzpatrick 64), Bennett, Osborne, Broadhurst, Benbow, Billingham, Evans (McPike 74) subs not used: Dyson, Oliver.
Goal: McPike 86.
REDS: Catlow, Moran, Quaynor, Flanagan, Hickman (c), Hands, Hendrie, Richards, Clarke (Dovey 67), Cresswell, Oshungbourne, Subs not used: Deards.