September 25th, 2016

McDonald: Players are focused on job in hand

Updated: 5:48 pm, Mar 03, 2016

REDDITCH United boss Liam McDonald said he was content with his side’s four-point haul from key matches against Hitchin Town and Poole Town and says his team refuse to be affected by the sideshow of the FA looking into the alleged fielding of ineligible players.

The club are still in dialogue with the FA after it emerged defender Jim Mutton and striker Jazz Luckie played in the 3-1 victory at St Neots Town when they should have started three-match suspensions following their red cards in the 1-0 defeat at King’s Lynn Town.

However, McDonald is adamant in his belief the club have done nothing wrong and prefers to concentrate on matters on the pitch as the Reds continue the battle for top spot in the Southern League Premier Division at Weymouth on Saturday before hosting Kettering Town on Monday.

“I am pretty satisfied with four points from the two matches, said McDonald, whose side bagged victory on Saturday through a late double strike from substitute Danico Johnson after Ash Sammons had brought the Reds level in the second half with a sublime free kick.

“We’ve played two good teams, there’s no doubt about that, and we’ve come through the games still sitting in a good position,” said McDonald, whose third placed side are three points behind leaders Poole with a game in hand and two behind second placed Chippenham with three matches in hand.

“I thought Saturday was a cracking game against Hitchin with lots of goalmouth action and it was exactly as I expected it to be. I like the way Hitchin go about things and we really had to up our game and fight to the end in the second half to get the three points.

“Poole was frustrating to some degree because they came to frustrate us and play for a point and, to be fair, you have to give them some credit for that.

“However, I can take positives from that. Seeing them elated with a point tells me a lot about what they think of us as a side and, as I’ve said before, it’s a sign of the progress we continue to make.

“I’ve got to say a massive thanks to the fans. It was fantastic to see 500 at the Valley, especially for a midweek game, and we really appreciate the backing they gave the team.

“It’s the best atmosphere at the Valley in my time here and, if I’m honest, some of our lads were possibly a bit nervous as a result of it – a culture shock perhaps.

“However, we hope some of the fans there for the first time could see we’re a good team and we’d really appreciate a big turnout on Monday against Kettering, who will bring 100 or so, so it should be another great occasion.”

This weekend United visit a Weymouth side who have stuttered in their pursuit of a play-off place but McDonald is wary of a team who have won nine home league games and lost just three.

“We’ll need a good performance to win there, as we will against Kettering,” added McDonald. “Weymouth have got one of the best strikers in the league and their midfielder Chris McPhee is a very good player.

“However, we’ve taken 13 points from the last five games and have the motivation of knowing two wins will probably take us top of the table come Monday night, so the lads will not need firing up.”

Turning to the FA investigation, McDonald is firm in his belief the club are not in the wrong.

“The King’s Lynn match was a shambles. The referee went off injured, there was a home supporter running the line and then there’s the fact we have sent video evidence to the FA contesting the red cards.

“Jim Mutton was guilty of no more than their player who got a yellow card for the same offence and Jazz Luckie did not throw a punch as was suggested.

“We are still awaiting a response to the video we submitted and were checking the relevant website every day in the lead up to the St Neots game to see if there was any news of suspensions.

“There was nothing reported, so it’s a technical error on someone else’s part. Then, the night before the Hitchin game, it appeared online saying they should not have played at St Neots.

“The lads have now missed the last two games and will also miss Weymouth. We are still in discussions with the FA but to be honest it will probably take some while yet to resolve.”

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