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Young guns end Reds' Valley hoodoo
Redditch United 2, Biggleswade Town 2
The waiting is over – the Reds have picked up their first Valley Stadium point.
After a run of five straight home defeats, goals from defender Joe Ballinger and star turn Edwin Ahenkorah earned United a share of the spoils.
And with questions being asked over the wisdom of playing so many youngsters – it was Liam McDonald’s kids that led the way with this being one of the youngest Redditch United sides to take the field all season.
With the experienced Kyle Patterson injured, Mark Hands unavailable and Harvey Headley suspended, the Reds boss gave Ahenkorah the solitary striker’s role with young guns Jermaine Hylton, Jamie Molyneux and debutant Omari Sterling-James providing the supporting role.
And while their pace and ingenuity constantly bamboozled the Biggleswade defence, there were equally impressive displays elsewhere. The backfour may have misfired for much of the season but the introduction of Stratford Town stopper Jim Mutton and a fine performance from on loan right-back Luke Connolly brought the whole thing together.
And to cap it all, keeper Brad Catlow made his first start and pulled off a string of good saves including one to keep out a first half penalty.
The game itself was crammed with chances with both sides spraying the ball around – a 4-4 scoreline would not have been out of place.
Catlow saved well from Evan Key after four minutes only for Brett Donnelly to score the opener eight minutes later with a cool first-time shot.
At the other end, Ballinger put a header over the bar from in front of goal before Ahenkorah drilled home the equaliser from just outside the box midway through the half.
Catlow’s full-length penalty save thwarted Lee Allinson on 37 minutes and he then kept out a point-blank Max York header on the stroke of half-time.
With former Birmingham City youngster Sterling-James conducting things in midfield, Molyneux was given plenty of ammunition and he went close either side of the break – Ian Brown pushing one effort around the foot of the post with defender Andrew Iwediuno diverting another chance just wide.
Ballinger made his mark ten minutes into the second half, heading home from six yards after Mutton had headed on an Ahenkorah corner.
But the scores were level again just eight minutes later when York fired home from 15 yards.
Chances continued to be created at both ends but a draw was a just result and will give the Reds plenty of confidence ahead of Saturday’s trip to Chippenham Town.
Reds: Catlow 7, Connolly 8, Ballinger 6, Price 5 (Bridgewater 73), Conteh 7, Mutton 7, Hylton 6 (Pitt 76), Oshungbure 6, AHENKORAH 8, Sterling-James 7 (Kargbo 87), Molyneux 6. Subs (not used): Hinds, Hornby.
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