DESPITE seeing his side suffer an unfortunate 3-2 defeat at fellow play-off hopefuls Truro City on Tuesday, Redditch United boss Liam McDonald remained upbeat about his team’s prospects of clinching a place in the Southern League Premier Division play-offs.
The Reds made the trek to Cornwall on the back of another long distance journey on Saturday when they claimed a magnificent 1-0 victory at title-chasing Poole Town – ending the hosts’ unbeaten home league record with a result and performance which McDonald said was “the best in his time in charge” – as the visitors prevailed despite playing the last half hour with ten men after Calvin Dinsley was sent off for two bookable offences.
However, without four key players due to work commitments, Redditch returned from Truro on the end of an unlucky defeat after conceding two fortuitous first half goals, which meant goals from George Carline and Leigh Phillips proved to be in vain.
Whilst accepting that debatable refereeing decisions and unfortunately conceded goals are part and parcel of football, McDonald did reveal he had a wider concern about the fact Redditch had to visit Truro in midweek in the first place.
“This shouldn’t happen,” said the manager. “It is surely possible for the fixtures to be arranged in a manner which means teams don’t have to make such long journeys in midweek when players are going to need a whole day off work in order to play.
“We’ve got to go there (Truro) and travel other long distances at some point, of course, but when you look at the fixture list across the league then there are too many of these crazy midweek trips taking place.
“It is something I have voiced my concerns about to the league and I’d like to see something done about it.
“It’s been particularly tough on us at the moment. By this time next week we’ll have played successive away games at Poole Town, Truro City, Cirencester Town and Cambridge City in the space of a week and a half, including two arduous midweek trips. That’s too much for a professional team, let alone for lads who have a full working week.”
McDonald felt his side were comfortable at Truro after taking the lead through Carline’s header, but the match turned on its head when a throw-in was incorrectly given to the hosts and led to a goal from Danny Greenslade and soon afterwards Truro led when a 40-yard strike from Ron Farkins heading well wide was deflected into the path of Craig Duff who had the simple task of converting from close range.
Phillips deservedly hauled the visitors level shortly after half time but home debutant Danny Sullivan sealed maximum points for the hosts with a powerful strike midway through the second half.
Despite the defeat Redditch, who visit Cirencester on Saturday before heading to Cambridge on Wednesday, remain fourth in the table and have a four-point cushion over sixth placed Hungerford Town and McDonald was pleased with much of what he saw.
“Without doubt some fatigue crept into our play on the back of our efforts at Poole and after the long journey, but our character was there for all to see and, despite missing many key players, we should still have got something from the game.
“I have to take positives from that considering we were away to a side now level on points with us. We had a six-point target before the Dunstable, Poole and Truro games and we’ve achieved it. We are still very handily placed and we’ll look to take our frustrations out on Cirencester at the weekend.”
McDonald, who will be able to call on the services of Jordan Jones, Dior Angus (resumes training after injury on Thursday), Liam Spink, Luke Shearer, Joel Caines and Zac Sirrell – all of whom were absent at Truro – is delighted with the impact of his new arrivals from lower league clubs.
“I think (midfielder) Zac Sirrell is going to become one of the best players in the league. His winner at Poole was a fantastic strike, cutting inside from the right and firing left-footed into the top corner.
“Luke Shearer has impressed up front and along with Leigh Phillips and Kyle Turner we have real options going forward.
“We are strong in all departments now and I’m going to be picking a team from 20 players on Saturday. There’s going to be a few disappointed lads but that’s good as it proves their desire to play.
“We’ve worked very hard to get ourselves into this position and we know some people are expecting us to fall away now, but we’re determined that won’t be the case.”