Radford faced up against 10th-placed Clifton All-Whites on a blustery afternoon at the CDW Arena, and secured all three points to continue their rich vein of form to six consecutive wins.
Both sides boasted phenomenal records in front of goal at the start of the day, Clifton netting 29 in their last five games to Radford’s 19. The goalkeepers could also count on solid defences in front of them, having only allowed four and six goals respectively over the same period.
Radford kicked off in driving rain, and they got the first chance immediately as a shot from distance skidded across the turf but Jake Want parried it away well for a corner, which he then claimed confidently.
Radford continued to put early pressure on the visitors as Conor Moore drove down the wing and crossed to force another save from the Clifton keeper. The resulting corner was initially cleared, then Want brilliantly palmed a header over the bar from point-blank range after the ball was floated back into the box.
Clifton gradually grew into the game and Hadlee Dunn was called into action for Radford in the tenth minute; Ryan Smith was ruled offside from the counter-attack which followed.
The visitors’ promising spell was cut short as the ball fell kindly to RYAN SMITH two minutes later and he poked past Want who had flown out attempting to claim it at the edge of the box. Radford 1-0 Clifton.
The home defence gave a very good account of themselves throughout the game but particularly in the first fifteen minutes, where captain Wes Spencer and Simon Hore were imperious in the air and intercepted almost every threat that came their way.
Ryan Smith was all-action in the first twenty minutes and rushed late into a tackle in the 20th minute, but it went unpunished to the disbelief of the visiting supporters.
Radford might have doubled their advantage 25 minutes in as Smith was pulled down while driving towards the box. Conor Moore drilled the free kick, but it was brushed wide for a corner by a wayward leg in the area. The corner delivery found Smith at the back post but he shanked his cross over the bar from an acute angle 12 yards out.
The game went through a rare barren spell in terms of goalmouth action until the 34th minute when Rav Jackson went down under pressure on the right side of the area. The free kick hit the first man in the area and was cleared.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between for Clifton until James Price found himself unmarked from a corner just before half-time. However, it came to nothing as he dragged his left-foot shot some way wide of the right post.
Jackson put himself about impressively in the first half and made a lung-busting run the length of the Clifton half to press the opposing goalkeeper into booting his clearance upfield.
HT RADFORD 1 – 0 CLIFTON ALL-WHITES
On-form winger Rav Jackson almost created a chance on 51 minutes, but was blocked as he entered the Clifton penalty area, shooting towards the tunnel.
The visitors grew back into the game again as captain Mitch Williams skimmed a header wide from a corner. The equaliser came just two minutes later, as a direct ball over the top from the defence found former Radford player JAHRED RUSSELL who outpaced Spencer, finishing past Dunn in the home goal. Radford 1-1 Clifton.
Parity was brief though, as the ball bounced around just inside the Clifton box after kick-off. Jackson lost possession to a defender who took a poor touch which Ryan Smith ran onto, before being fouled by the onrushing Jake Want.
SIMON HORE confidently fired the spot-kick into the left side of the Clifton net. Jake Want guessed the right way but was unable to get a hand on the ball in time, then picking it out of his own net for the second time in the game. Radford 2-1 Clifton.
Clifton All-Whites looked like creating another chance shortly afterwards but Spencer put in a well-timed challenge on the halfway line; Tom Black intercepted the second ball and laid it back to the keeper to relieve the pressure.
Clifton scorer Russell took an in-swinging corner in the 84th minute which directly forced Dunn to tip the ball over the bar for another corner. The resulting clearance led to a well-worked third goal for Radford as Tom Black played the ball into the path of substitute CONNOR HARDY who found the net against his former club, Radford 3-1 Clifton.
As the final whistle was blown, the Pheasants remained fourth due to wins around them, while Clifton slipped down slightly to 12th.
FT Radford 3 – 1 Clifton All-Whites