LUKE Shearer has been praised by Redditch United manager Liam McDonald for the “outstanding” performance which helped the Reds to a crucial 5-1 victory at Dorchester Town on Saturday.
The gifted attacker has enjoyed an impressive campaign and been a key player in United’s push for promotion from the Southern League Premier Division, but McDonald said the player himself acknowledged he had been below-par in recent weeks.
However, the versatile Shearer, who can play up front through the middle or out wide, was back to his best against Dorchester and McDonald hopes this will bode well for the final three matches of the season and then, hopefully, the play-offs to come.
“Luke Shearer was outstanding and too hot to handle to be honest,” said McDonald.
“He’s got so much potential, but sometimes he comes in for criticism – including from the coaching staff and myself – because he’s capable of more. Luke has got a lethargic look about him at times which, when he’s not at his best, seems to further open him up to criticism.
“However, he’s taken on board what we’ve had to say and is maturing all the time. It’s a challenge working with Luke and I enjoy it. I was proud of him on Saturday and really do believe he has the potential to go as far as any Redditch United player ever has.”
The Reds recovered from conceding a goal after 23 seconds at Dorchester to level through an own goal and then run out convincing winners thanks to goals from Shearer, Sam Merson, George Carline and Will Richards and McDonald was pleased to see his side return to the goal trail.
“If you knock at the door so many times it will open said McDonald.”
“We should have won at least one of the games against Leamington and Dunstable but drew a blank in both so scoring five goals has given the boys a boost.
“Dorchester surprised us by playing three up front and we had to make a few early tweaks, but I was impressed by how we responded to the setback of conceding in the first minute and after that we nullified them and it was all about us.
“We got George Carline into some good offensive positions which we’d spoken about beforehand and he was rewarded with a goal.
“Defensively we were strong again and we are looking in good shape for the tests to come.”
First up is Saturday’s visit of former leaders Chippenham Town to the Valley, which is followed by another home game on Monday against in-form Kettering Town who, with games in hand, are well placed to seal a play-off place.
“I’m looking forward to the games,” said McDonald. “Chippenham need to come and beat us if they want to keep their top five hopes alive and that should make it an exciting game. There’s no point in them playing for a draw, so we should see an open match which will suit us.
“Kettering are in great form and, even though they’ve had a packed schedule lately, will come here fired up as adrenalin gets you through at this stage of the season. We’ll have our plans as usual and it’s all about getting the right results at this stage now.”
Striker Jazz Luckie is expected to return from a toe injury for the final match of the season at Frome Town a week on Saturday, but attacking midfielder Jack Hallahan is available this weekend having recovered from illness.