REDDITCH United manager Liam McDonald hailed the club’s supporters for their “fantastic backing” during Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to new Southern League Premier Division leaders Corby Town.
The Steelmen were reduced to ten men shortly into the second half when goalkeeper Paul Walker saw red after bringing down Luke Shearer as he latched on to Calum Flanagan’s lofted pass, but the visitors recovered to deservedly seal maximum points thanks to a goal from their leading scorer Spencer Weir-Daley just past the hour mark.
An excellent crowd of 391 were at the Valley to watch as Corby boosted their title hopes on a day when championship favourites Poole Town were beaten, but McDonald was frustrated by his side’s display in front of a partisan crowd as the Reds’ seven-match unbeaten run was brought to an end.
“We let ourselves and the supporters down on Saturday,” said McDonald.
“We were below-par in a big game and it’s disappointing because we’ve set high standards this season and I am doubly frustrated because the fans were so good on Saturday.
“They never stopped singing and chanting for us and I am really grateful to them for clapping the players off at the end. It shows they appreciate how far we come over the past 18 months and they are pleased to have been watching us trying to secure a play-off place at this stage of the season.”
Despite the defeat, United sit just two places and two points adrift of the final play-off position with six matches remaining and, with what McDonald deems a “potentially favourable” run-in, he is keen to move on quickly.
Starting with Saturday’s visit to Histon, Redditch face five of the current bottom seven in their final six games and the boss has urged his side to be positive.
“I always try and look at the positives and sometimes a defeat can refocus the mind and give you that desire to bounce back, which I hope will be the case with us. We are lucky in that we have six games left and are very capable of meeting the points target we have set,” said McDonald.
“We’ve responded well to adversity before and I am confident the lads will come flying out of the blocks at Histon and can go and get the win we need.”
It has been an eventful week at the Valley Stadium on the transfer front. McDonald said he had been thwarted in his bid to bring Bromsgrove Sporting striker Sean Brain to the club, but was putting the finishing touches to a move to recruit Tipton Town forward Gurjit Singh.
McDonald had been hopeful of securing the services of Brain but, as he is currently registered to another Southern League club in the shape of Stratford Town, the move was vetoed as the Warwickshire club were unwilling to release him.
However, McDonald has been successful in securing the services of Singh who, as The Standard went to press, was training with the club and set to put pen to paper.
McDonald said: “Tipton are in a relegation battle and ‘Gaz’s’ goals are obviously very important to them, but we’ll work together with them to see the best way to go with him this season.
“Will he play for us this season? I am not sure yet, but he’s a very exciting prospect who plays off the left hand side and is the exciting type of player we wish to attract.”
The Redditch boss has also swooped to sign French forward Mor Serigne Diop from Conference North outfit Gloucester City. The Paris-born 26-year-old, a former Darlington player, can also play on the wing and is available for the Reds immediately.
“He was at Hereford United earlier in the season and, at 6ft 4in, can offer us a physical presence up front and play with his back to goal, which is something we have been lacking,” added McDonald.
McDonald was also pleased to reveal that influential centre back Clayton McDonald would be staying at the Valley until the end of the season despite interest from Conference Premier outfit Kidderminster Harriers.
However, McDonald was left disappointed by the behaviour of Harriers – managed by former United boss Gary Whild – in their pursuit of the defender.
“We didn’t have seven days put in for Clayton by Kidderminster. Gary Whild did not pick the phone up to talk to me so, if they have been speaking to Clayton, then it’s not something they should have done,” added the United boss.
“You’d like to think you can build a good relationship with your neighbours, but sadly this might not be the case, but the main thing is Clayton is staying here until the end of the season.”
Liam McDonald has urged his side to respond at Histon this weekend. Picture by Alex Bradbury. 1315015ABR11.
The Reds’ Simeon Maye climbs highest against Corby. Picture by Alex Bradbury. 1315015ABR10.
George Carline and his Corby opponent have their eyes on the ball. Picture by Alex Bradbury. 1315015ABR4.
Liam Spink in typically combative mood for United. Picture by Alex Bradbury. 1315015ABR8.