DARREN BYFIELD was fulsome in his praise of his Redditch United players as they secured Southern League Premier Division safety despite seeing their run without a victory extend to seven games.
Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Kings Langley took the Reds to 49 points and ensured a bottom four finish was avoided, although 17th placed United were then beaten 1-0 by visitors Merthyr Town on Easter Monday.
Despite being unable to seal a welcome victory, Byfield’s side showed strong defensive resilience and were particularly unlucky not to clinch three points against Kings Langley.
“I thought we had a good shape in both games and showed terrific commitment, which was appreciated by most supporters,” said Byfield.
“We created several good chances against Kings Langley and should have won. We weren’t ruthless enough which is disappointing, but I couldn’t fault the endeavour and commitment.
“Players were taking responsibility and that’s a real positive because, given the run we’ve been on, it would be easy to hide.
“Merthyr are a strong side and preparing for the play-offs, so it was inevitable they would control possession, but we stood up to them and largely restricted them to long range efforts.
“I think, other than tiredness, we’d have got a point as they’ve scored with a 25-yarder midway through the second half when we a bit slow to get out and block the strike. Had that been in the first half, I think we’d have got a block in.
“We’ve got another tough match to end the season with at Slough Town on Saturday. Slough are also in the play-offs but, if we show the same defensive commitment as a side and can be more ruthless at the other end, then it’s more than possible we can get a result.”
At the season’s end, Byfield and the squad will have a short break before he reveals which players he intends to keep at the Trico Stadium for the 2017/18 campaign.
“It’s important we make early decisions,” added the manager. “I will be speaking to the chairman about things and then to the players as to who we go forward with.
“I have already targeted some players and have been watching two or three games a week on a regular basis as part of this process.
“We have our pre-season programme in place other than the opening fixture to fill, so it’s very positive in that respect.
“It’s not been easy this season for several reasons, but I’m really excited by the prospect of next season.”