16th Jun, 2019

Smith salutes Reds players for winning their battles

Editorial Correspondent 4th Jan, 2019 Updated: 9th Jan, 2019

PAUL SMITH praised his Redditch United for producing a ‘dominant’ performance to open 2019 in winning style.

The Reds made it two home derby victories in the space of a week, and bounced back from a drubbing at Barwell last weekend by comfortably beating Halesowen Town 3-0 at the Trico Stadium on New Year’s Day.

Redditch had defeated Alvechurch 4-2 on Boxing Day but the loss at Barwell was a sobering experience for players and staff.

Smith was delighted with the response to defeat Halesowen and wants to see his squad step up again for the trip to Rushall Olympic tomorrow (Saturday) as they seek successive wins in the league for the first time since early November.

“We got what we deserved against Halesowen,” said Smith. “I thought we were dominant all over the park and won all of our individual battles on the pitch which was key after our inept showing at Barwell.

“The scoreline flattered Halesowen to an extent, we could have taken more of our chances.”

Smith saluted the performance of new forward Jack Storer, who has joined from Scottish side Partick Thistle.

“I thought he did very well considering it was his first game in a number of weeks. You could see the class in some of his touches and movement, I thought it was a very good debut for him. He’s got an edge about him which I like,” Smith said.

Following the departure of Martin Sockett, Matt Clarke has returned to the Reds as Smith’s assistant.

“He’s been at this level for a number of years with Halesowen and has many contacts in the game,” said the manager. “Going forward, we’re really excited about how things will work out working together.”

Goals from Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham, Ahmed Ali and Rob Evans earned the Reds victory against a Halesowen side managed by former player and boss Rob Smith.

George Washbourne skimmed a low effort into the gloves of Yeltz stopper Daniel Platt, shortly before Evans blocked a header and then a left-footed rebound from Mathias Bakare at the other end. Then the faintest of touches around the post denied Washbourne’s swerving shot from distance.

But the breakthrough did come on 19 minutes via the penalty spot after a handball from a corner, Leachman-Whittingham sending the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards. The Yeltz almost hit back immediately when Dan Sweeney rounded keeper Reece Francis but after delaying his shot the ball cleared off the line.

It took a great reaction save from Platt to keep the scoreline at 1-0 when Leachman-Whittingham’s cutback was fired goalwards by Robbie Bunn.

The lead was doubled on the stroke of half-time when Jamie Ashmore cut inside and sent a pinpoint cross into Ali to nudge the ball home.

After a quiet start to the second half, there came a bolt from the blue just before the hour mark, courtesy of defender Evans.

A cross was headed away by the Halesowen defence to the penalty area where Evans controlled and struck a fierce volley that zipped into the top-left corner with some aplomb.

Last weekend, Smith was hugely disappointed with how the Reds were swept aside 4-0 at Barwell.

Henry Eze headed home from a corner for 1-0 on 16 minutes and three goals in the final 15 minutes settled matters. Brady Hickey smashed home a penalty Jahvan Davidson-Miller tapped home for 3-0 and then Massiah McDonald volleyed in No 4 a minute from time.

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