REDDITCH head into Saturday’s (1.30pm) home game against Olton & West Warwicks 3rds boosted by an encouraging 2-1 victory at Sutton Coldfield 2nds on the opening day of the West Midlands Premier Division season.
The promoted Kingfishers were keen to impress and started well with plenty of possession as the hosts sat back and absorbed the visitors’ pressure.
Andy Billingham gave Redditch the lead midway through the first half with a short corner driven low into the bottom left corner but Sutton Coldfield equalised before half-time.
In the second half the hosts were much more threatening and Redditch spent phases of the game having to do plenty of defending.
The hosts also had several short corner opportunities but they failed to capitalise on these as Redditch youngsters Luke Baker and James Browning put in solid performances on both wings and Mike Slater also provided plenty of energy and composure in the centre of midfield.
Goalkeeper Joe Cardy pulled off two great saves in the second half to keep Redditch level.
As the game drew to a close, Redditch had several good opportunities as shots from Harry Williams and Jack Gwyer crept wide past the post and skipper Adrian Young had a short corner deflection which hit the post.
With four minutes remaining and Sutton Coldfield on the attack, Redditch quickly broke away and an excellent run and cross-field pass by Slater found Gwyer at the top of the D and the latter rounded the keeper and fired home a reverse stick shot to put his side ahead.
Redditch skipper Adrian Young said: “I’m really pleased with this result. It’s a great way for the team to start a new season in a new division.
“The lads have worked really hard over the last couple of years and played some good hockey in pre-season. We still have a couple of players to come back into the squad too which is encouraging.
“Hopefully we can take the positives from this game into our next game at home to Olton & West Warwicks 3rds.”
REDDITCH 2nds began life in South West One with a thrilling 4-3 home win against Stratford 3rds thanks to goals from Martyn Strong (2), Jacob Beard and Richard Sellors.
The Kingfishers visit Olton & West Warwicks 4ths on Saturday.
Redditch 3rds cruised to a 6-0 win at Stratford 4ths in South West Two.
The home team started strongly but it was Redditch who took the lead after some nice build-up play which saw Ethan Smith shooting on his reverse stick and lobbing the keeper from a very tight angle.
Redditch continued to apply more pressure on the Stratford defence after going ahead and further goals from Josh Checkley, John Manison and Mark Gosnell extended the lead to 4-0 going into half-time.
The second half started similar to the first, with Stratford looking to get a foothold, but it was Redditch again who found themselves getting a goal through Ben Morris.
The scoring was completed with a well-worked short corner routine which Dave Baker slotted under the keeper. Redditch host Old Silhillians 3rds on Saturday.
Redditch Badgers got their league season off to a flying start with a 3-2 victory over Bromsgrove Blue.
Starting confidently, Redditch soon got into their rhythm and some great play and slick passing through midfield increased the pressure on the Bromsgrove goal, which quickly resulted in Sam Padfield breaking the deadlock with a nice strike from the right side of the D.
Redditch continued to press and play well, but increased possession and some quick breaks saw Bromsgrove split the Redditch defence and slot home two goals, leaving Redditch trailing at the break.
After some reorganisation at half-time, Redditch came out looking stronger and more composed. A wave of continued possession resulted in a series of penalty corners, one of which was converted calmly by Harry Gwyer off the keeper’s pads to level things up.
Bromsgrove continued to press forward but Toby Wilson had the defence well organised and they were quickly able to transition defence into attack, giving the momentum to Redditch.
Later in the half, player of the match Eathan Wedgbury was on hand to convert another penalty corner and give Redditch the lead, which they managed to hold on to.
Saturday’s (1.30pm) match is at Kings Heath.