September 26th, 2016

Reds strengthen ahead of important Easter fixtures

Reds strengthen ahead of important Easter fixtures Reds strengthen ahead of important Easter fixtures
Eli Bako hopes to recover from a shoulder injury in time for the visit of Bideford.
Updated: 4:51 pm, Mar 24, 2016

REDDITCH United boss Liam McDonald was a busy man yesterday (Thursday) as he made a new addition to his squad and closed in on another on transfer deadline day.

Fresh from completing the loan capture of 18-year-old 6ft 3in striker Curvin Ellis from Solihull Moors, McDonald was putting the finishing touches to a deal to bring a young attacker to the Valley from a Midland League club on a dual registration, whilst he was also hopeful of completing a move for another forward player from a fellow Southern League Premier Division club.

McDonald praised the “resilience and character” shown by his table-topping side as late goals against both Histon and Frome Town secured crucial points over the past week and said the new arrivals would boost a squad which had looked “tired” during Monday’s 1-1 draw against Frome at the Valley in which Luke Shearer’s 89th-minute penalty salvaged a share of the spoils.

McDonald, who watched George Carline bag a late headed goal to see off visitors Histon 1-0 on Saturday, said: “Our form levels have dipped a bit in the last couple of games, there’s no denying that.

“However, we’ve taken four points from the two games against determined opposition and I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Frome. They came here on the back of five wins and played very well. It was a hard fought game and we are viewing that result as a point gained, especially with Leamington and Hitchin losing in midweek.

“We did look tired as Monday’s game wore on, but the lads showed the character they have, kept going and proved they are up for the fight.

“I want to say a big thanks to the fans. They’ve turned out in good numbers like we asked for and they’ve really driven the boys on. They were two difficult games which were frustrating at times but they kept cheering us on and on Monday in particular I really think they did earn us that point.”

The games continue to come thick and fast in the promotion battle and the Reds’ Easter programme sees the visit of bottom placed but improving Bideford to the Valley on Saturday before a trip to Wales on Monday to face old rivals Merthyr Town.

McDonald will be able to call on the services of captain Ash Sammons who missed Monday’s game and is also hopeful midfielder Eli Bako (shoulder) and right back Jordan Cullinane-Liburd (Achilles) will be available for selection on Saturday and, if not, at least Monday.

“We’ve been without some in-form players in the past couple of games so to come through with the four points and top of the table isn’t to be sniffed at,” added McDonald.

“We should have more options available to us now and that’s important. Curvin (Ellis) will offer us something different up front. At 6ft 3in he will give us an aerial presence up there if we need it and he’s strong and technically good, so I’m pleased to have him on board.”

Looking ahead to Saturday, McDonald said: “Bideford might be bottom but they’ve claimed some impressive scalps lately and I am expecting a very hard game. They are coming here with nothing to lose and we will need to work very hard to win.

“If we can win, we know that will put pressure on other sides and then it’s another big game for us on Monday. I am hopeful we will enjoy playing on Merthyr’s 3G pitch as we’ve got players who like to keep the ball moving and play at pace, so that surface should suit us.”

Meanwhile, McDonald was keen to reassure supporters that his players were extremely thankful to the backing from the terraces.

“A few fans have asked me why the players don’t come and clap the supporters at the end,” said McDonald. “To be fair, that’s down to me. As soon as the full time whistle is blown we are into our huddle, talking about what’s happened and what we need to focus on next time.

“The lads wish to reassure fans they are very grateful for the support. I’ve told the boys football needs to be their lives until the end of the season.”

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