Redditch United 1, Evesham United 0

PHIL Mullen must have regretted his move to persuade the referee to allow Saturday's derby clash at The Valley Stadium to take place.

After the official had deemed the surface unplayable, Mullen and Redditch counterpart Rob Smith urged him to have a rethink and the end result was an end to an Evesham run of eight straight wins.

If any side was going to dent United's storming run towards the top of the table, then it was always going to be their Worcestershire rivals.

The hosts completed a second successive league "double" over the Robins as an emphatically struck spot-kick from Paul Danks settled the spoils.

There was every sympathy with players on both sides in the dreadful conditions but the visitors rarely looked like a side on the verge of promotion as they struggled to get their passing game together until it was too late.

Evesham also picked up four cautions as the referee failed to make allowances for the conditions that cost Mullen's men the only goal of a miserable 90 minutes.

Steve McCartan's lay back towards Jay Powell stuck in the mud and the defenders swing only succeeded in sending Andrew Corbett sprawling in the mud after 24 minutes.

Three minutes earlier, Mark Wolsey had thumped a header from a Matt Pendleton cross narrowly over the top as Evesham relied far too much on the long ball and chances were scarce.

Redditch, who had won just one of their previous six home matches, were certainly given a harder task after the break as United stepped up a gear.

The introduction of Phil Preedy and Andy Hodgetts pepped up the visitors but the conditions worked against them 15 minutes from time.

Shaun Pratt released Stuart Payne but, on this occasion, the ball ran away from the striker and newly signed ex Common Road keeper Har-vey Willetts produced a smart block.

Preedy twice thumped shots on target - the first smacked into a defender's hands but the referee ruled no penalty while the second strike was deflected for a corner.

Willetts did well to clutch McCartan's centre five minutes from time, while Pendleton's attempts to make it two goals in two games two minutes later ended with his volley flying harmlessly wide.

It was left to Damien Beattie to ensure Evesham maintained a year long record of not having lost a league match by more than one goal.

The custodian denied substitute Ian Bennett and Corbett in stoppage time on an afternoon when defeat was hard to swallow but hardly unexpected.