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Leigh RMI 0 Redditch United 0

By Matt Lawton
August 19 2006

New RMI manager Stuart Humphreys saw his side claim their first point of the season in his first game in charge at a rain-soaked Hilton Park. Following the resignation of predecessor Andy Nelson in midweek, Humphreys was appointed manager after being Nelson’s assistant for over a year, and the difference was plain to see even before a ball had been kicked, with Humphreys returning several players, including new assistant boss Andy Roscoe, to their ‘natural’ positions after being controversially played out of position by Nelson in the defeats to Vauxhall Motors and Farsley Celtic in the past week.

Visitors Redditch had made a similarly poor start to the season, despite bringing in several new players over the course of the summer, though their supporters were mindful of the rare ‘double’ that RMI achieved over them in the Conference North last season, including Leigh’s 2-1 opening day victory in Worcestershire.

Although a fairly eventful encounter featuring several, shall we say ‘meaty’, challenges from both sides, along with, for once, a rather boisterous Hilton Park atmosphere, neither side created any particularly clear goalscoring chances, with RMI concentrating on long balls to in-form Chris Simm and the re-instated Dan Owen up front, with the recent rain failing to help any passing football.

RMI’s new player-assistant manager Andy Roscoe probably had the best chance of the first half when his free kick was palmed away by the goalkeeper, only for the rebound to be cleared after Scott Willis was controversially brought down on the edge of the Redditch penalty area.

New boss Humphreys, facing a rather sceptical RMI support who are understandably concerned that there would be little change from the Andy Nelson performances that has seen them struggle, were pleasantly surprised in the second half to see a double attacking substitutions, with Lee Shillito replacing the rather ineffective Steve Settle on the right wing, while exciting front man Chris McDonagh replacing the hardworking Owen.

Despite that, RMI’s final ball was lacking and they failed to create many clear cut chances, although they went through a long period of pressure and forced several corners, while Mark Maddox went close with a strike from the edge of the area that the goalkeeper gratefully dived upon.

The visitors had by far the best chance of the game late on when a header hit the underside of the crossbar but bounced away without going over the goal line, with RMI goalkeeper John Lamb well beaten. For once, RMI had a bit of luck, and in all fairness it would’ve been completely undeserved if Redditch had got more than a point from the encounter.

It may well be early doors so far in the new Humphreys regime, but a first clean sheet of the season and improved attacking play, despite the lack of a winning goal, is certainly cause for encouragement in the RMI ranks ahead of Tuesday’s daunting visit to Nuneaton.

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