DESPITE the disappointment of watching his Redditch United side fall at the FA Cup first hurdle on Saturday, manager Darren Byfield said he had nothing but admiration for his players’ efforts in the opening weeks of the season.
As has become a frustrating pattern in recent seasons, the Reds made the earliest exit from football’s most famous cup competition as they were beaten 2-1 at Northern League Premier Division outfit Coalville Town in the first qualifying round.
However, defeat in Leicestershire against a side who play at the same level was no disgrace and Byfield is now focusing all his attentions in trying to get United off to a winning start at their revamped Valley Stadium home against second placed Slough Town on Saturday.
“I’m gutted we got knocked out of the cup in our opening game because the players and myself were desperate to get a good result for the fans, but unfortunately we conceded a couple of sloppy goals,” said Byfield.
“However, I’ve refused to dwell on that, because the players have been magnificent for me in the opening month or so.
“I salute the effort they’ve put in. We’ve played eight successive matches away from the Valley to start the season and not been able to train on our home ground, so overall I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen.
“It’s been extremely draining playing all these away games, but the boys have got on with it and given everything. Doing so much travelling is not easy in non-League football.”
Byfield, whose team are likely to face another stern test on Tuesday when they visit a Leamington side currently third in the Southern Premier table, has a fully fit squad to select from this weekend with striker Mike Taylor and defender Nat Kelly available for returns and he welcomed a “nice headache”.
“I cannot wait for Saturday now,” added the boss, whose side are seventh with 12 points from seven games.
“It’s going to be an exciting occasion with the new facilities all in place and the players are desperate to do well, impress the fans and build a relationship with them.
“We want to make the Valley a fortress if we can and our fans have a massive role to play.”
At Coalville, Redditch fell behind on the hour mark to Callum Woodward’s 18-yard strike, but looked to have earned a deserved replay when Clayton McDonald thumped in a header from a corner in the 82nd minute. However, two minutes later Brad Munn nodded home from a corner at the other end to settle the contest.