ANGRY Redditch United boss Liam McDonald has demanded a reaction from his players after they lost the Red Insure League Cup semi-final on Monday night.
Despite home advantage and being a goal up thanks to Jermaine Hylton, United went down 3-1 as St Neots produced a stirring second half display.
Now they face a big test against Calor Southern League leaders Hemel Hempstead at the Valley Stadium on Saturday (3pm ko).
Hemel have won the last four matches and scored 17 goals in the process.
“I was really disappointed. At the moment we are a team that plays well in halves rather than than for a full 90 minutes,” said McDonald.
“To be honest, I let the players know I wasn’t very happy with them. It’s not something I normally do, but sometimes you have to.
“There were certain players who did not do what I asked of them and something needed to be said.
“Hemel is going to be really tough on Saturday and I want a reaction in terms of desire, effort and spirit.”
United were shot down by Lewis Hilliard’s hat-trick.
Hylton handed Redditch the lead midway through the first period.
But it was a different St Neots side which emerged for the second half and they should have levelled within two minutes, but Jay Davies skied his effort over the target.
Hilliard bagged the equaliser on 50 minutes, the midfielder tucking the ball away after Dean Cracknell’s shot had been parried by keeper Brad Catlow.
Redditch were still reeling from that when he got the better of the home defence and fired in his second on 52 minutes.
The final stages of the game saw United defender Nathan Jackson pushed forward but the closest they came to levelling was an Omari Sterling-James effort over the crossbar.
And with the Reds pushing for a way back into the game, Hilliard made the most of the extra space to fire home his hat-trick goal five minutes from the end.
Defeat was only two days after their 2-1 defeat at St Albans.
Omari Sterling-James had bagged a leveller but Elliott Bailey scored the winner. Hylton nearly ensured a point only to be denied by the woodwork.
After Hemel, United tackle St Neots at home on Monday (7.45pm ko).
Redditch’s Worcestershire Senior Cup semi-final at home to Worcester has been rescheduled for March 18.