BOSS Paul Smith heaped praise on his ‘professional’ Redditch United side after they eased into the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup with a 2-0 victory over visitors Rugby Town on Tuesday.
A neat fifth-minute finish from midfielder Max Loveridge and a 23rd-minute goal from Michael Nelson following Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham’s assist put the hosts in command and the only surprise was the fact the margin of victory was not greater.
However, progress was all that mattered and Smith said this Reds side was ‘head and shoulders’ above the one which had suffered an FA Cup exit at the hands of the same United Counties League Premier Division opposition earlier this season.
With four successive wins in all competitions under their belt, United now head to Mickleover Sports for an FA Trophy first qualifying round encounter on Saturday.
Smith said: “It was a professional performance in which we defended well when we had to and always looked dangerous going forward. We created chances and could and should have won by a greater margin.
“No disrespect to anyone, but this team is head and shoulders above the one which lost here to Rugby recently and we can take lots of positives into this weekend’s game.
“It was an excellent finish from Max (Loveridge) to get us up and running and it was great to see the long throw paying dividends again to create the chance. It’s a great weapon to have and one we will continue to use.”
Northern League Premier outfit Mickleover are sure to provide a tougher test this weekend but Smith says his men can head to Derbyshire in great spirits.
“It will be a very tough game against a big, strong, organised and experience side but we go there on the back of four wins and full of confidence, determined to get the win we want,” he added.
One negative from the midweek win was the injury to versatile Lewis Wright who has only just returned to the Reds following a brief spell at Tamworth.
Smith said: “Unfortunately, Lewis may have popped his calf. We’ve got to assess the injury but hopefully it’s not too bad. He has bags of energy and can play in a number of positions which excites me.”
Meanwhile, keeper Ben Pierce has undergone a successful operation on the broken bone in his foot.
Whilst keen to take things week by week, Smith is clearly impressed with his side’s progress.
“There has been a major overhaul in terms of the playing staff since I joined the club and I have been delighted with the quality and application of them,” he added.
“They’ve listened, worked hard and believe in what we’re trying to achieve.
“It’s amazing what a few wins can do. Everyone was down in the dumps when my staff and I arrived but, with the fresh faces, mixed in with some of the players who were here before and some excellent performances and results, the place is buzzing again.”
The Reds have been drawn to visit league rivals Stratford Town in the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday, November 6.
Prior to that, they will bid to climb out of the Southern League Premier drop zone when they resume their league campaign at home to Banbury United a week on Saturday.