21st Mar, 2019

Reds’ progress thrills boss

Redditch Editorial 10th Jan, 2019 Updated: 10th Jan, 2019

REDDITCH United boss Paul Smith declared himself extremely satisfied with the Reds’ haul of ten points from their five festive fixtures and believes there is more to come from his side in the final 17 games of the season.

Saturday’s impressive 3-1 victory at Rushall Olympic was a third win in four Southern Premier Central fixtures for United and lifted the Reds into 14th place ahead of Saturday’s visit of rock-bottom Bedworth United.

Having also seen off local rivals Alvechurch and Halesowen Town, as well as earning a draw against high-flying AFC Rushden & Diamonds over the Christmas and new year period, Smith told the club website he is the happiest he has been since walking through the gates of the Trico Stadium in September.

“Everyone is loving it and I’m over the moon! I’m thrilled for the players, as they’ve worked incredibly hard and deserve to be in the position they’re in the table,” said Smith.

“My staff and I came in when things were low, at the bottom of the table, but everyone has pulled together and we’ve shown what we can do.

“We’ve noticed attendances have begun to creep up as well and we hope the fans are enjoying the style of football and results we’ve been earning recently.

“We’ve a reached a milestone, where we’re closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone, so let’s see what we can do between now and the end of the season.”

In the most recent showing, Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham netted a first half brace including a penalty, before Dave Reynolds scored a late header from a free kick he won on the edge of the box to secure a 3-1 victory at Dales Lane against a Rushall side managed by former Reds boss Liam McDonald.

In a fiercely competitive game, Redditch took advantage of Rushall conceding a penalty on the stroke of half-time, with the game poised at 1-1, and then the hosts being reduced to ten men in the second half.

Smith said: “Decisions work themselves out during a season. I thought the penalty was the right call – the player had his arm up in the air to block the ball – while the red card was probably a harsh one.

“That said, we were the better side and always in the ascendancy. The boys deserved to win the game and we now look ahead to two big games coming up against teams (Bedworth and Lowestoft Town) in the bottom four of the table.

“It’s important we don’t rest on our laurels. We were at the bottom not too long ago, so we appreciate both teams will be scraping for everything, but there is so much confidence in this group at the moment and we’re excited for every fixture.”

Smith has been delighted with the impact new assistant manager Matt Clarke has had on the dressing room.

He added: “I’ve known Matt for many years and he has already proven to be an invaluable asset to my staff – even fronting our own television channel!

“Joking aside, he has an abundance of contacts and is a superb conduit between myself and the players.”

Former Birmingham City forward Jack Storer was another player who signed up to the Reds over Christmas, with the gaffer hailing his influence since joining, but, in what was the only negative from the win at Rushall, the forward is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Smith said: “Jack has had a scan and we will confirm diagnosis and likely recovery period.”

Midfielder Max Loveridge and striker Mitch Piggon have both left the club, with Smith wishing the pair of them well in their respective futures.

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