Paul Smith said he was delighted with the depth of his squad after substitutes made the difference once again during the 2-1 victory over Rushall Olympic at The TRICO Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Michael Nelson, who got on the scoresheet during Saturday’s comeback win at Tamworth after coming on in the second-half, scored another late winner to send supporters, players and staff into raptures with a victory – meaning back-to-back Evo-Stik South – Premier Division Central triumphs.
Smith said: “Tuesday night’s clash with Rushall was another tight game, but, like against Tamworth, the strength of the squad was what made the difference for us.
“It is vital that we have quality that can come off the bench, put in a shift and fight to be in the starting line-up for the following match. Of course, players aren’t happy being on the bench, which I am pleased with, because it means they’re desperate to play and wear the shirt.”
Ahmed Ali, making his second debut for the club, marked his return with a goal and an “inspirational performance”, the gaffer added.
The Reds are making a habit of earning late winners, which is testament to the fitness and conditioning work taking place on the training pitch, but, more than that, Smith is thrilled with the impact that the new players, whom he persuaded to play their football at The TRICO, are having:
“There has been a major overhaul in terms of the playing staff since I joined the club, and I have been delighted with the quality and application of them. They’ve listened, worked hard and believe in what we’re trying to achieve.
“It’s amazing what a few wins can do; everyone was down in the dumps when my staff and I arrived, but with the fresh faces, mixed in with some of the players that were here before, and some excellent performances and results, the place is buzzing again.”
Smith added that while the club’s league position is rosier than what it was two matches ago, he won’t allow the players to become complacent and has challenged them to improve further:
“I am pleased with how we’re shaping up – I would argue we’re ahead of where I thought we would be at this stage – but there is so much more to come from this group. I want to win every watch; I expect my teams to win and I put pressure on them to deliver, as I know they are capable of beating any team on their day.
“So, while happy with back-to-back wins, I’ve told the players to stay grounded because any lapse in focus will mean we’ll be weaker for the next match.”
The Reds’ next fixture isn’t until Tuesday, when Rugby Town visit The TRICO for the second cup match this season, and The Reds boss admitted that it was “frustrating” to not have a game this Saturday, as “we want games to come thick and fast when we’re winning”, but he was planning on treating the players to dinner on Saturday night as a reward for their efforts during the “best week of the season so far”.
Updated 14:24 - 19 Oct 2018 by Tom Henman