MANAGER Liam McDonald hailed Redditch United’s superb 1-0 victory at fellow high-flyers Leamington on Tuesday as the best team performance during his time at the club.
Luke Shearer’s 17th minute strike following George Carline’s defence-splitting pass secured a fourth successive victory and third clean sheet in a row for the Reds, whose success lifted them to third in the Southern League Premier Division table – behind Leamington on goal difference and a point behind leaders Poole Town having played a game more.
Fresh from Saturday’s hard fought 2-0 home win over Dorchester Town thanks to goals in the final 15 minutes from Shearer (penalty) and Carline, United faced arguably their toughest league fixture of the season when they visited the New Windmill Ground to face the Brakes but, despite seeing right back Kyle Haynes red-carded in the 50th minute, the visitors stood firm to seal a deserved win which left McDonald feeling elated.
“I am immensely proud of the team, especially with Tuesday’s performance,” said McDonald.
“The boys have worked so hard in recent weeks to bounce back from the successive defeats we suffered and their focus and determination has been admirable.
“Leamington are many people’s favourites to win the league but we stood up to everything they threw at us in the closing stages and the defending as a team was first class.
“We’ve had some outstanding results in the last couple of seasons like winning 7-1 at Slough Town last season but, for me, as a team effort, this has topped them all.”
McDonald, whose side can now look forward to Saturday’s FA Trophy first qualifying round tie at Evesham United as they bid to avenge last season’s FA Cup exit at the hands of the Robins, said the spirit in the camp was evident in abundance on Tuesday.
The Reds rallied to ensure Haynes’ dismissal – following an altercation with Lee Chilton after the home player’s challenge on Reds keeper Jose Veiga – was not costly and McDonald said the scenes at full time proved the togetherness within the ranks.
“After the game I like to say a few words to the team on the pitch but the players were buzzing, so they were doing all the talking,” added the boss.
“Danny Dubidat was praising everyone, then Calum Flanagan chipped in and Greeny (Nick Green) said ‘hang on lads, let the gaffer have a word’, but I didn’t have to say anything to them. It’s fantastic to be honest.
“I’ve already said this season how I think this is the best squad I have had on my hands here, which some people might find strange when you think I’ve managed Omari Sterling-James, Ashley Sammons and Jermaine Hylton, but the biggest difference now is that this team cannot be bullied.
“We are a physical side when necessary. We will tackle hard and get stuck into teams if we have to. Tuesday was a proper game, the lads had cuts and bruises, they had sweated blood to be fair to them.”
United now turn their attentions to Saturday’s Trophy test at Evesham – who play a tier below the Reds – but McDonald will again have to make do without talismanic midfielder Jamey Osborne who faces a month on the sidelines having been forced off against Dorchester with a shoulder injury.
However, the manager is continuing to take a look at Halesowen Town midfielder and former Birmingham City Academy prospect George McGee, who has featured as a substitute in the last two matches, whilst he says he has “a decision to make” regarding versatile Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, who was back in the starting XI at Leamington following his return from a loan spell at Tividale.
Meanwhile, McDonald added he was very hopeful of bringing an attacking midfielder to the Valley Stadium who he believes could form “some great partnerships” with the existing players.
“Obviously losing Jamey (Osborne) is a setback so we could do with some help in that area,” added McDonald. “If we can get this deal done then it would be a big boost at an important stage of the season.”
The Reds return to league action on November 7 at fellow promotion hopefuls Chippenham Town.
Should an FA Trophy replay be required, it will take place at the Valley on Monday. If not, Redditch will visit Sutton Coldfield Town on Tuesday in the first round of the Birmingham Senior Cup, unless the Royals’ Trophy tie against Coalville Town goes to a replay.