Football
Boss Hyde backs Reds to stay up

By Liam Moakes 19/04 Updated: 24/04 15:58

REDDITCH UNITED boss Graham Hyde has called on his side to hold their nerve as they prepare for their penultimate match of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division season at Arlesey Town tomorrow.

The Reds remain two points above the drop zone after hard-working striker Jimmy Deabill salvaged a point at home to promotion-chasing Oxford City on Saturday.

And Hyde believes that as long as United - who have lost just three times in 12 league games - maintain their focus, then they will do enough to get over the survival line with positive results tomorrow and then at home to fellow relegation battlers Weymouth next Saturday in what could be a crucial final day encounter.

Hyde said: "The lads have been tremendous in recent months. We have had a settled side and that has helped us and I believe we are unfortunate not to have picked up more points than we have.

"Defensively we have been solid and if we can maintain our level of performance I believe we will do enough to beat the drop."

Tomorrow's hosts are one point and two places above the 17th placed Reds after an excellent run of form in recent weeks and, barring an unlikely sequence of results, look set to stay up.

Crucially though, despite a better goal difference, Redditch only have a two-point advantage over fourth bottom Swindon Supermarine - who host mid-table Barwell tomorrow - so a loss tomorrow could see Redditch slip into the drop zone.

Sandwiched in between the Reds and Swindon are Weymouth, who trail United on goal difference as they prepare to host Hitchin Town tomorrow.

Elsewhere, second bottom Hemel Hempstead Town needed a victory at home to Oxford City in last night's (Thursday) match to maintain any realistic chance of survival, whilst Evesham United need to win their final two games to have any chance of avoiding joining already relegated Cirencester Town in slipping out of the league.

Redditch were good value for their point in Saturday's clash at the Valley as they recovered from a strong start by Oxford who had already gone close twice before defender Chris Wilmott gave them a sixth minute lead when he headed home after Reds' keeper Dean Coleman could only parry a weak strike from Declan Benjamin.

However, the hosts were in no mood to lie down and within moments the influential Stuart Hendrie saw a fierce effort saved by City keeper Jason Mooney before the equaliser arrived in the 15th minute when Deabill sent a precise header beyond the reach of Mooney following a fine cross from Tom Warmer.

Jamie Grimes had to make a goalline clearance shortly before half time to keep the Reds on level terms and they survived again shortly into the second half when Felipe Barcelos blazed over when well placed.

The hosts' best chance to claim maximum points saw Deabill head over the bar with the net at his mercy following an inviting cross from Aaron Stringfellow 15 minutes from time.

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