First half horror proves costly as Dorchester Town lose against the Reds

BY: Phil Spencer – Dorset Echo Sport


Dorchester Town suffered a first-half horror show as they lost 4-2 against Redditch United in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division.

The display was a far cry from the organised defensive display which the side boasted in their victory over Hitchin Town on Monday night, something which will no doubt be hugely frustrating to manager Craig Laird.

It looked as though the cloud of negativity had been lifted from over the Avenue Stadium, as the Magpies went into the game with two victories in their last three games, with the main buzzword amongst the squad being “confidence”.

The feel-good factor stemmed from Monday’s unprecedented victory, a game which saw exciting prospect Tom Blair score with a headed goal, before a tireless and gritty defensive display secured the much needed three points.

Magpies goalkeeper Shane Murphy spoke through the week about the the positive feeling in the changing rooms before the Hitchin Town game, and that focus certainly seemed to be the difference between that display and today’s collapse.

Following the result, Laird and his men will have been desperate for another positive result to truly dilute the threat of relegation.

Redditch, who sit just six points ahead of the Magpies, went into the game in freefall after a run of 10 games without a victory, and with morale likely to be low amongst Darren Byfield’s ranks, Dorchester will have been confident that they could snatch another victory.

The Magpies made three changes from Monday night, with Jordan Williams, Ollie Davis and Captain Nathan Walker being replaced by Jason Brookes, Ollie Bassett and Neil Martin, who returned following a two-match suspension.

A frantic first half got off to an awful start for the visitors, who went behind just 77 seconds into the game, when Luke Keen found himself in space in the box before sliding past Shane Murphy to give Redditch a 1-0 lead.

Dorchester had an opportunity to reply after 10 minutes, when David Jerrard picked up the ball on the edge of the area, before firing his effort just wide of the post.

Jerrard returned to the team on Monday following a spell on the sidelines with the flu, and the midfielder was clearly keen to make an impact.
Moments later, the Magpies missed another opportunity as Bassett went close with an excellent curling effort which went just over the top of the Reds’ bar.

Redditch made it two when Keen picked up the ball on the edge of the area and applied a cool finish to double the lead.

It went from bad to worse for the Magpies, as Keen sent Murphy the wrong way with a penalty, to make it 3-0 within a frantic opening 25 minutes.

But such is the confidence of Laird’s side, that they immediately battled back when Martin curled a cross in from the left flank, which found Olly Mehew who finished past Catlow in the Redditch goal.

Mehew got his second of the game seconds later as he picked up a ball from Jerrard, before wrong-footing the goalkeeper with a viciously deflected effort which flew past him and into the back of the net.

Jerrard had an opportunity to get an equaliser, which he dragged wide, before the Reds got another, scoring a powerful header from a corner to make it 4-2 at the interval.

It was the Magpies who started stronger in the second half, as Franklyn Clarke fired a free-kick straight at the goal keeper from the edge of the area.

Clarke spoke midweek about his love for the club, and after apologising for throwing the club’s shirt to the ground last Saturday against Slough Town, he was looking to battle and fight to bring the club to safety in their relegation battle.

Laird tried to add more attacking emphasis to his side by introducing Williams and Lewis Powell as his side tried to force their way back into the game.

Jon Vance managed to carve out a chance for himself as he ventured forward and went close to getting a goal as he took on two defenders before firing his shot harmlessly wide.

The manager then introduced Davis, who was hoping that he could pick up where he left off on Monday night by creating some goal scoring opportunities for his teammates against a determined looking Redditch defence.

As the game reached the final stages, both teams had opportunities to get the next goal, as substitute Powell hit his effort over the bar, before goalkeeper Shane Murphy made an excellent save to deny Redditch a fifth goal of the game.

The Reds were clearly in control, and took the opportunity to slow the game down as they attempted to run down the clock, much to the frustration of the Dorchester players and backroom staff, culminating in a yellow card for the returning Martin.

But it wasn’t to be for the Magpies, who despite battling hard in the second half, were unable to break down the Reds’ defence, who were visibly delighted to record their first victory since early December.

As for Dorchester Town, manager Craig Laird will no doubt be frustrated that his team couldn’t follow up Monday’s robust defensive display against mid-table Redditch, and will now be looking for a reaction going into next week’s Avenue double header against Hayes and Yeading United and King’s Langley.

Redditch United: Catlow, Jones, Dhillan, Loveridge, Courtney, Brown, Cullinane-Luburb, Angus, Benjamin, Keen, Diop, Morris
Subs: Bailey-Nicholls, Campbell, Mitchell, Flavio, Hussain

Magpies: Murphy, Brookes (Williams), Martin, Vance, Oldring, Down, Bassett, Jerrard (Powell), Mehew, Clarke, Blair (Davis)
Subs not used: Mitchell, Griggs

Referee: Matthew Smith

Attendance: 258