MANAGER Darren Byfield expressed his satisfaction at Redditch United’s start to the Southern League Premier Division campaign, despite suffering last-gasp heartache at Kettering Town on Tuesday.
The Poppies snatched a 1-0 victory thanks to a 93rd-minute Lindon Meikle header – virtually the final play of the game – leaving United dejected after a positive second half display which saw them create numerous chances against much-fancied opposition.
However, despite the setback, Byfield was keen to focus on the positives, especially having watched his side begin the campaign with a crushing 5-0 home victory over Dunstable Town on Saturday.
Byfield told the club website: “I’ve said to the boys I’m absolutely delighted with them. I’m even more pleased with our performance than I was Saturday because Kettering are a good side and are going to be up there.
“We fought with them every minute and the fair result would have been a draw. Even their manager said the same thing. He understood what a good side we’ve got.
“I’m happy with how we played, I’m happy with how we fought. I’ve seen a massive difference with this team from last season.
“I’m gutted for them because we should’ve got something from it, but it happens and evens itself out over the season.”
Byfield now wants more positive displays from his side, starting with Saturday’s visit to Farnborough, adding: “I’m delighted with my boys and if they keep playing like that, fighting like that, they’ll be at the right end of the table at the end of the season.”
After a hard fought first half devoid of clearcut chances, the match came to life in the second half. Kettering enjoyed a succession of corners after the interval but Orrin Pendley and then Keenah Rosser both made vital goalline clearances.
In between, United’s Danny Jackman curled a free kick narrowly wide and Dior Angus was played through but his shot was saved low down.
Jackman’s set pieces were causing a constant threat and, after Pendley’s header glanced off target, a further corner saw substitute Vinny Mukendi’s header hit a Kettering defender on the line even though he knew little about it.
Rene Howe got in behind the Reds defence and beat new keeper Ethan Ross – signed on a six-month loan from West Bromwich Albion – only for Pendley’s outstretched leg to divert his effort wide, before at the other end Redditch broke and Danico Johnson’s shot was tipped over.
However, it was Meikle who had the final say and United left Northamptonshire empty-handed.
The Reds made a flying start to the campaign on Saturday as Dior Angus netted a hat-trick in the rout of Dunstable.
The winger/striker had completed his treble before the break as the hosts – who fielded nine debutants – impressed.
Angus opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a penalty after Pauly Apostolopoulos was tripped in the box and it was 2-0 just two minutes later when Angus fired a brilliant volley into the top corner.
His treble was completed shortly before half time following impressive work from the talismanic Jackman, which came after new striking recruit Spencer Weir-Daley had rifled home.
The scoring was completed five minutes from time when Mukendi headed home a corner from close range.
Meanwhile, the Reds have added another new recruit in the shape of former Albanian U21 international Andi Thanoj who was with Harrogate Town in National League North last season.
Now 24, Thanoj played more than 70 times for Grimsby Town in the National League and also had a loan spell at Alfreton Town.
Byfield said: “Andi is a creative midfielder who has experienced playing at a higher level. He will bring even more quality to the side and also has the benefit of being a set-piece specialist.”