REDDITCH United boss Paul Smith believes his side are on the right track in their quest to continue climbing the Southern League Premier Central table, but admits they will have to sharpen up on aspects of their performance in the midweek defeat to Stourbridge if they are to continue to do so.
The Reds were somewhat unlucky to be on the end of a 4-0 reverse to the Glassboys on Tuesday as their four-match league winning run was brought to an end, but Smith admitted the visitors were fully deserving of three points and showed where his own side could improve.
There is an ample opportunity to do just that on Saturday when Lowestoft Town, who sit third from bottom and in the drop zone – four points below the 17th-placed Reds with a game in hand – visit the TRICO Stadium.
On Tuesday, two goals either side of half-time from Callum Powell and Greg Mills (penalty) set the foundations for the visitors before a superb Luke Benbow strike and deflected effort from Mills left the Reds well beaten, despite the hosts spurning several good chances of their own.
Smith said his team were “on par” with the second-placed side until gifting their opponents a penalty early in the second period, but added: “We can’t afford to give any team a 2-0 head-start, let alone one of the best sides in this division, so it was always going to be an uphill task.
“What was pleasing, though, is that we have shown we can compete with the best sides in this league. Stourbridge were our toughest test, a group which has been together for a long time and are a benchmark for us, so we are not a million miles away from that level.”
Smith lamented concentration levels and, whilst there are certain drills in training which can help, he said the players’ mentalities hold the key to ensuring these mistakes are eradicated.
However, he was not too downbeat: “Over the last three weeks, we’ve gone on an excellent run of form, conceded very few goals and won football matches, so I’m not going to be too critical of the players because they’ve been fantastic,” he added.
“We’ll dust ourselves down and get ready for a very tough game on Saturday when Lowestoft Town visit.
“Whilst they’re on a poor run of results, their league position doesn’t reflect the quality of their group and we’ll be in for a difficult afternoon, but one we’re all looking forward to, especially after a defeat.”
The Reds were not at their most fluent on Saturday but did enough to see off lowly hosts Bedworth United, who remain without a victory, thanks to first half goals from Leam Howards and Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham.
Smith said after the 2-0 win: “We were not at our best but ground out a win and clean sheet. The boys and staff deserve huge credit. I ask a lot but the hard work is paying off.”
Ahead of this weekend’s game, Smith rewarded his side’s efforts of recent weeks by taking them out for a curry and he hailed the team spirit which is clearly evident within the ranks.
On the fitness front, versatile Lewis Wright, who continues to work his way back to fitness, will miss out, but defender Nyeko Sinclair should return to the squad after sitting out Tuesday’s game. Striker Dave Reynolds is unavailable.
Meanwhile, a fans’ forum has been arranged for Tuesday, December 11 (8pm) at the TRICO.
There will be a question and answer session with boss Smith and chairman Chris Swan, as well as the chance for young Reds to take part in a training session. Contact the club for more details.