REDDITCH United manager Liam McDonald was delighted to see his side end a highly encouraging campaign with silverware in the bag as county rivals Evesham United were comprehensively beaten 5-2 in Tuesday’s Worcestershire Senior Cup final at Kidderminster Harriers’ Aggborough Stadium.
The pace and trickery of attackers Jermaine Hylton, Jamie Molyneux and Omari Sterling-James proved way too hot for the Robins to handle, as has been the case for many sides in the Southern League Premier Division since the turn of the year, as the Reds mounted a superb climb away from a potential relegation battle to finish in tenth place.
The cup triumph – which saw Redditch dispose of Kidderminster Harriers and Worcester City in earlier rounds – also went some way to making up for the disappointment of the Red Insure League Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of St Neots Town in February.
“It was a very enjoyable occasion for us on Tuesday and I was thrilled to see the players end the season in such fitting fashion with a very lively and pacy attacking performance which epitomises what this team is about these days,” said McDonald.
“The way we play, looking to get in behind teams, we have looked unstoppable at times recently and this was the case against Evesham. Credit to Evesham, because they played some good stuff, but they couldn’t cope with Jermaine (Hylton), Jamie (Molyneux) and Omari (Sterling-James).
“I am delighted with the players. Sometimes they might not like what I ask them to do, but to a man they have carried out the instructions and they have got their rewards.”
Having turned around the Reds’ fortunes, it is unsurprising McDonald is rumoured to be attracting interest from other clubs, but he was keen to stress he is no hurry to seek pastures new.
McDonald added: “I am committed to Redditch. I have a meeting with (chairman) Chris Swan next week and we’ll be discussing ideas for next season. We are a good team looking to build on what we’ve got and I am very positive we can make further strides forward.
“There are talented players here who we can develop further and we will look to bring others in to strengthen us. I know I won’t have the biggest budget in the league, but that’s always been the case, and I’m fine with that.”
A crowd of 400 saw Redditch make a blistering start to the final and take a 2-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes. Sterling-James opened the Reds’ account by seizing on a bouncing ball inside the six-yard box before heading in over Louie Barnfather and the Evesham keeper was beaten for a second time shortly afterwards when the impressive Hylton outpaced the Robins’ defence before slotting past the advancing Barnfather.
Elliot Kennedy and Lance Smith threatened briefly for Evesham before Nathan Jackson gave Paul Collicutt’s side hope for the second half by heading in James Bowen’s free kick on the stroke of half time.
However, any hopes of a comeback disappeared five minutes after the restart when Molyneux made it 3-1 despite protests from the Evesham players who stopped in their tracks after the ball appeared to go out of play.
Evesham’s task was made even harder leading up to the hour mark when youngster Bowen was sent off for a foul on Sam Youngs.
Ashley Sammons then broke clear to make it 4-1 despite Barnfather getting a hand on the midfielder’s drive and it soon became 5-1 when Hylton got his second goal of the game as he finished off another through ball down the middle.
Smith pulled a goal back for Evesham on 78 minutes with his 18th strike of the season, drilling in a free kick beyond keeper Sam Hornby after substitute Carl Brown had been brought down just outside the box.
Smith and then James Vercesi forced Hornby into making diving saves and at the other end defender Will Wellon prevented Hylton from bagging a hat-trick with a goalline clearance in stoppage time.
McDonald concluded: “Things were not easy or simple at the club at the start of the season and people have said ‘if only it wasn’t for the start we could have made the play-offs, etc’.
“To be honest, it’s probably helped us in hindsight. It has certainly helped me in my direction of how I wanted to shape the team and it’s enabled me to progress as a manager.
“We’ve ended the season really well and hopefully Redditch have some happy supporters at the moment.”