Hednesford Town kicked off their Pitching In Premier Central campaign at Keys Park with Redditch United the first visitors of the season. New signings Luke Rowe, Joe Cuff and Lewis Gwilliams made their league debuts, while newly arrived Sam Wilding began the day on the substitute’s bench. For Redditch, there was a quick return to Keys Park for Reece Flanagan who joined his brother Callum, also a former Pitman, at the Reds during the close season.
In a typical cagey season opener the Pitmen had the better of the first half in terms of possession and chances. Joe Cuff put the ball wide from a Kyle Bennett cross, before sending a speculative effort over the bar. At the other end Lewis Gwilliams parried a shot from Redditch, with Carter Lycett making the clearance. It was Cuff again who had a shot stopped at the near post before Kieran Boucher made a low save at the feet of Riley O’Sullivan.
The visitors had more to offer at the start of the second half, although it seemed their ambition was limited to stopping the Pitmen play and take a point away from home. However just past the hour, Ryan Nesbitt broke the deadlock for Redditch with a well taken freekick from outside the right hand side of the box.
Andre Landell came off the bench for a lively substitute appearance forcing a couple of saves from Boucher and a goal line clearance. One minute into added time, as the Pitmen tried to grab an equaliser, a shot from O’Sullivan rolled agonisingly along the goal line forcing another frantic goal line clearance from the visitors. An eventful afternoon for Cuff ended moments prematurely when he was shown a straight red card for serious foul play during the scramble for the ball, rubbing salt into the wounds of the supporters and ending the afternoon in disappointment for Hednesford Town.
Hednesford Town; Gwilliams, Hayden, Lycett, Portman, Ison, Cuff, O’Sullivan, Parker, Lita (Landell 62), Bennett (Ebbutt 79), Rowe (Wilding 62). Subs not used; Riley, Williams
Redditch United; Boucher, Donnelly, Hudson, Smith, Flanagan, Nesbitt, Sheaf (Moore 83), Mensah, Bryne. Subs not used; Rowbottom, Culkin, Gyasi, Boothe.