REDDITCH United boss Paul Smith heaped praise on his team after their 2-1 victory at Coalville Town all but clinched Southern Premier Central safety.
The Reds could secure their survival with a positive result at home to play-off hopefuls Biggleswade Town on Saturday and the hosts will go into the match in buoyant mood after extending their current form to one defeat in seven with a victory in Leicestershire which put a huge dent in the Ravens’ top five ambitions.
Smith is thrilled by his side’s endeavours as they enter the final five matches of the campaign. Despite being 18th, the Reds are just six points behind Rushall Olympic in tenth and a strong finish to the season is now the target having taken over with United deep in the relegation mire.
Smith replaced Paul Davis in September with the Reds second-bottom after a thumping 5-1 home defeat to Coalville but the improvements have been remarkable, as evidenced by Saturday’s performance against the same opposition.
Defender Andy Parsons put the visitors ahead on 73 minutes and an 86th-minute own goal from Stephen Towers doubled the Redditch advantage before Andrew Wright halved Coalville’s deficit in the first minute of injury time.
“We thoroughly deserved the win at Coalville and I’m delighted for the lads. It’s a tough place to get a result at and we played some excellent football to back up the good performance against Tamworth,” said Smith.
“From one to 16, the squad’s attitude was spot on. There were good displays across the park and the boys know if they work hard they will win a lot of games. That’s one defeat in seven and I’m chuffed for the team
“Adam Whitehouse made two great saves in the first half and the back four played well throughout. In midfield, I thought Josh Hawker was head and shoulders the best player. He’s not fully fit yet but what a player we will have on our hands when he is – he’s so calm on the ball.”
The increasing strength in depth within the squad was highlighted by the fact Redditch named new forward Luke Yates, Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham and Richard Batchelor on the bench and youngster Yates – snapped up from Alvechurch – won instant praise following his 25-minute cameo.
“Luke is a talented player. He’s young, works hard, listens and is gifted on the ball. I tried to sign him at Christmas but couldn’t get it over the line, but it’s great to have him on board now,” added Smith.
“We’ve got another tough match now against Biggleswade who are chasing the play-offs and are a very good side.
“However, we are in good form, have a strong squad and are confident.”