REDDITCH United’s thumping 8-1 victory over Bedworth United is indication they are back to their best and ready to cement their position in the Southern League Premier Division play-off places says manager Liam McDonald.
New striker Jazz Luckie continued his sensational start to life at the Valley Stadium as he made it four goals in just two games with another brace, whilst substitute Ash Sammons also weighed in with a double.
Max Loveridge, George Carline, Jamey Osborne and Jordan Cullinane-Liburd were also on the scoresheet for McDonald’s side, who were denied the chance to close further in on leaders Poole Town when Tuesday’s match at Cirencester Town was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Despite that disappointment, McDonald was delighted as his side built on their 3-1 win over Merthyr Town in their previous outing and fired out a warning to the rest of the division that a top five finish is the minimum ambition.
“We re-evaluated a few things after we lost at Stratford Town on Boxing Day. It meant we no longer had the pressure of trying to protect the long unbeaten run we were on and I tried to turn the players’ emphasis on going all out to win games again,” said McDonald.
“We’ve mixed things up a bit in terms of our training schedules and the work the boys do in the gym and it’s freshened things up a bit, which has led to a lot of hunger and desire which has really been evident on the pitch in the past two games.
“I know Bedworth had a man sent off but I really don’t think it affected anything on Saturday. With the way we tore into them and were hurting them out wide from the first minute, I’m pretty sure we’d still have scored a hatful.
I was really impressed by the way the lads went about what was a banana skin of a fixture. It was a bit of a local derby and they had three of our former players in their side but, other than one mistake which led to their goal, it was a flawless performance.
“The three players in their team who were here not so long ago probably all had a point to prove, but we again showed the progress we continue to make and you could see why those players are there and not at Redditch anymore – because they weren’t good enough for the top end of this division.”
McDonald, whose side are fourth with games in hand on the sides above them heading into Saturday’s – weather permitting – visit to Cambridge City, revealed the Reds have received two offers from higher ranked clubs for talismanic midfielder Osborne, who the United boss described as “head and shoulders the best player in the league”.
In addition, a Football League club has expressed an interest in another contracted player at the Valley, but McDonald sees nothing but positives in these situtations.
“I’ve spoken before about how we’ve had our fingers burned in respect of losing top talents for nothing, but having our star players on contracts now protects us and, of course, if teams from higher levels are interested in our players then we are doing things right,” said McDonald.
“We’ve had offers for Jamey which are close to being accepted, but we are not looking to make money on him. We would like to recoup what we paid for him, but (chairman) Chris Swan is willing to accept the lesser offer if this is the right move for Jamey and if he decides to go there.
“We are not looking at things in the short-term. If we do things right by our players it will bring long-term gain as when we bring in new players on contracts these players will see we have looked after people in the right way and will hopefully want to come to Redditch United.
“If Jamey leaves of course it changes things for us, but I will reiterate this is the strongest squad I have ever had here. Saturday was my biggest win as manager and we had Ash Sammons, Luke Shearer and Jamie Molyneux on the bench.
“We’ve got Simeon Maye on his way back from injury, Alex Fletcher has barely had a look-in since his move and Danico Johnson is ready to challenge for a place up front, so things are looking really positive for us.”
The Reds’ rearranged league game at home to Kettering Town scheduled for Monday, January 25 has been postponed and instead the Valley Stadium will host the Reds’ Birmingham Senior Cup last 16 tie at home to National North leaders Solihull Moors.