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By Liam Moakes Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 17:13
IT WAS a case of what might have been for Redditch United on Saturday as they gave play-off-chasing St Albans City a fright but it was the hosts who went on to claim a flattering 3-0 victory.
The day did not get any better for the Reds as news filtered through that relegation rivals Hitchin Town had won 4-0 at home to AFC Totton - a result which leaves Simon Redhead's team three points from safety and with an inferior goal difference - although they do have at least two games in hand on the rest of the sides in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division relegation shake-up.
The Reds then saw Tuesday's crunch fixture at home to Hitchin postponed, meaning tomorrow's match at struggling Chippenham Town is their next chance to boost their survival prospects.
The hosts are five places and nine points above United, but have played five more matches, so another vital contest awaits.
Redhead's team made a fine start at City on Saturday and Connor Deards wasted a gilt-edged chance to give them an early lead when he fired wide when clean through, before new midfield recruit Dean Bennett crashed a thunderous 30-yard strike against the woodwork soon afterwards.
Redditch continued to dominate but shortly before half time looked set to pay for their profligacy when Asa Charlton's challenge on James Comley resulted in a penalty, only for Brad Catlow to save superbly from Greg Ngoyi's spot kick.
However, having looked unbalanced with a 4-5-1 formation, City were more fluid once they switched to 4-4-2 in the second half and took the lead on 66 minutes when Brad Wadkins converted following a Comley through ball.
Chris Henry added the second on 82 minutes and deep into injury time Ngoyi converted a low cross by Henry to leave Redditch wondering how they had lost by such a margin considering the balance of play.
After the game Redhead urged his players to keep their belief, saying: "We've played very well for the last three matches now and if we maintain that level of performance we will stay up.
"Some days it just doesn't go for you and we had one of those, but there's plenty of positives to take from our current form.
"Sharpening up in front of goal is necessary but there's not too much wrong at present."
The match saw United hand a debut to new recruit George Washbourne - an 18-year-old midfielder - as a late substitute following his one-month loan switch from Conference Premier high-flyers Forest Green Rovers.
Redditch are in action at the Valley Stadium on Tuesday when they host Banbury United.
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