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17th Jan, 2022

EXCLUSIVE - Redditch United boss Clarke insists safety is the aim as he reflects on the Reds season

REDDITCH United manager Matt Clarke admitted he has been disappointed with the Reds first half of the season but hopes the arrival of some experienced players will turn the club’s fortunes around.

 

Redditch find themselves outside of the Southern League Premier Central relegation zone on goal difference ahead of a home match with local rivals Alvechurch just after Christmas.

 

The Reds ended a 12-game winless run in the league with a stunning win at Peterborough Sports at the beginning of December but have not won a league match at the Trico Stadium since September.

 

And Redditch boss Clarke insists he has delivered a clear message to his players as the Reds attempt to steer clear of danger over the festive period.

 

Clarke said: “The aim this season was to stay up, we just need a little bit more from the players now in the second half of the season

 

“The message is clear, we need to be more resolute, grind results out when we’re in favourable positions and ultimately get more points on the board and climb up the table.

 

“We’ve been in so many good positions this season, we’ve made basic errors that you get with young players learning their trade.

 

“It’s been disappointing, we knew we wouldn’t be a promotion-chasing team, we started okay but ultimately we’ve not got enough points on the board.”

 

The Reds have added experienced heads Jack Byrne and Jamie Ashmore to their squad in recent weeks in an attempt to galvanise their young squad.

 

And Clarke hinted he may look to bring in some more bodies over the coming weeks to further boost the Reds survival chances.

 

Clarke added: “We’re in a position that we don’t want to be in for long, we have a very young group, nobody has beaten us by more than two goals except for Coalville so that means we’ve been in every single game.

 

“But because the group are very young and naive, we’ve needed that experienced head in there so the really tight games swing our way.

 

“Whoever has been in there as the captain hasn’t really been a strong enough character to lead the group.

 

“We brought in Jack Byrne a few weeks ago but we’ve been unlucky because he’s been injured – that’s the type of player we’ve identified and we maybe need to add one or two more of those players.

 

“We want characters that have that little bit more nous and understanding of the game than what we have, they’ve already made a big impression since they’ve been in the building.”

 

Redditch are only seven points away from the top-half of the table, having lacked consistency this term, and are yet to win back-to-back league games this season.

 

Manager Clarke praised the Reds supporters for their backing despite the club’s lowly league position – with over 900 fans in attendance at the Trico for the local derby against Bromsgrove Sporting.

 

He said: “The supporters have been fantastic, as a manager I always accept responsibility when results aren’t going right and I can understand their frustrations.

 

“There’s such a small gap between being bottom of the league and 12th place – a couple of wins and it changes the whole complexion of the season.

 

“But the support has been excellent and it’s a big thing for all of the boys in the dressing room to have that support behind them.

 

“It gives them a great lift when we’re behind or when we go ahead, the support has been absolutely excellent and long may it continue.”

 

And Clarke believes the Redditch fans can play a crucial role in keeping the club in the division this season ahead of the second half of the campaign.

 

He said: “First and foremost, I hope that everybody stays safe, we’ve been in the clutches of this pandemic for over two years now, it’s been really frustrating.

 

“Christmas always brings people and families together and it’s the same with us – we appreciate all the support our fans have given us.

 

“We hope we can repay them in the New Year and get more points on the board, the support is massive and it will ultimately help us stay in the league.”

 

The Reds are scheduled to play Alvechurch just after Christmas before then travelling to Stourbridge on New Year’s Day and finish the festive period with a home match against Banbury United.

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