FOOTBALL: LIAM McDonald accepts Redditch United need to hit the heights in the coming weeks if they are to keep pace with the Southern League Premier Division front-runners.
The Reds have slipped to eighth place – eight points adrift of leaders Poole Town and three below the play-off places – with a game in hand after suffering successive defeats following a five-match league winning streak.
Whilst the Valley Stadium boss is far from panicking, he is aware of the quality of opposition this season and knows any extended sequence of poor form could make finishing in even the play-offs a very tall order.
However, a tough run of fixtures continues for United as they host fourth placed Weymouth on Saturday before tackling the likes of Hitchin Town, Dorchester Town, Leamington, Chippenham Town and St Neots Town over the next four to five weeks.
Redditch were extremely unfortunate to return empty-handed from Dorset on Saturday as promotion favourites Poole rode their luck to secure a 2-1 victory thanks largely to the heroics of keeper Nick Hutchings, but McDonald admitted his charges were not at the races on Tuesday as they were beaten 3-0 at Chesham United.
“We were really unlucky not to take at least a point on Saturday as we produced a fantastic performance, especially in the second half, so it was really disappointing to follow that display with such a poor showing – as a group rather than individuals – at Chesham,” said McDonald, who watched midfielder George Carline net a second half header on Saturday to reduce his side’s arrears.
“In fairness to the players, two long trips in quick succession have probably taken their toll and Saturday would have taken a lot out of the lads, because they gave it everything against a top side.
“However, we are not happy about losing two games in a row and we know that makes an already testing period of games even more difficult now.
“We really need a result on Saturday as we’ve been left playing catch-up a bit. After ten games we were probably slightly ahead of the target I had in mind but these defeats have set us back a bit.”
McDonald, who looks set to welcome influential right back Kyle Haynes back into his team on Saturday, added: “There’s no doubt we face another tough test against Weymouth who have big hopes of winning the title and have only conceded six league goals so far.
“However, I know how disappointed the boys were on the coach on the way home on Tuesday and hopefully they can take their frustrations out on Weymouth and make life really difficult for them.”
AS PART of the nationwide Non-League Day, admission to Saturday’s game at the Valley Stadium is half price for season ticket holders of any Football League club on production of a valid season ticket, meaning admission is just £5 for those adult supporters. Kids are also admitted for half price on the same basis.