By Liam Moakes Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 15/11 11:20
A BRACE from former Fulham star Barry Hayles clinched a 2-0 victory for St Albans City at the Valley Stadium on Tuesday and sentenced Redditch United to a third successive Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division defeat.
The scoreline was harsh on the Reds who controlled large parts of the match but lacked a cutting edge and then saw their task made all the more difficult by the 54th dismissal of captain Asa Charlton.
As well as their numerical disadvantage, it was obvious the Reds were hampered by their lack of options up front and it is clear to see why Simon Redhead was seeking attacking additions to his squad ahead of tomorrow's visit to bottom placed Kettering Town.
The visitors were dealt an early blow on Tuesday when their top scorer Lewis Toomey was forced off with a hamstring injury, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as 40-year-old Hayles replaced him and was twice in the right place at the right time in the second half to capitalise on errors and seal maximum points for the visitors.
The hosts' first real sight of goal arrived on the half hour mark when makeshift striker Joel Grandison did well to find himself some space on the edge of the area and, under pressure from defenders, produced a firm strike which forced City keeper Nick Jupp to save well to his left.
Redditch took a grip on the game for the remainder of the half without ever really threatening an opener and their hopes then nosedived after the restart when Charlton over-ran the ball on a burst down the left and, in attempting to retain possession, lunged into a challenge with his studs showing and the referee decided it merited a red card.
The Reds reacted well to the setback as centre backs Alex Hickman and Callum Flanagan impressed and the hosts played well on the break.
However, it was City who grabbed the vital first goal in the 65th minute when United keeper James Wren could not hang on to a headed effort from a corner and Hayles was able to tap home the loose ball.
United came very close to an equaliser when the impressive Stuart Hendrie produced some magic to find space out wide but his inviting cross was misread by substitute Simon Johnson and the chance was spurned.
The outcome was put beyond doubt three minutes from time when Wren could only clear Flanagan's back pass straight to Hayles and he finished with aplomb.
The Reds are 17th, two points above the drop zone, but having played numerous games more than many of the sides around them, so are a return to winning ways is vital and tomorrow's visit to the Poppies provides the perfect chance against a side who are yet to win in the league this season.
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