REDDITCH United manager Matt Clarke feels the pressure is on Halesowen Town ahead of Saturday's big derby at The Grove (3pm).

Ahead of the midweek fixtures, Paul Smith's hosts were 14 points behind The Pitching-In Southern League Premier Division Central leaders Reds with both sides losing last Saturday.

Clarke said: "Halesowen are a fantastic club, really well supported with a fantastic manager. All the players know each other (between the two clubs).

"But there's big pressure on Halesowen.  I know the manager will play it down and say it's their first season back in the league.

"But when you spend the money they're spending and have got the personnel, resources and the crowds, the expectation levels are huge and they have to be in the play-offs.

"We are 14 points ahead of them (before midweek matches) so Saturday's a big game. The pressure's on them, they are at home and I think we have got the best away record in the league.

"We will go there a little bit wounded. I'm hoping we'll bounce back in a positive way because every time we have lost a game we have always bounced back.

"We'll go there really positively and patch the boys up. We probably need to strengthen defensively.

"I'm sure our boys will really thrive playing at their stadium with the crowd. The pressure is on them (Halesowen).

"They got beaten on Saturday and will be desperate for the points to get into that play-off zone where they feel they should be."

The battle of the in-form sides saw Redditch fall 2-0 at home to St Ives Town last weekend.

The Reds remain top after only their second defeat in 11 games in all competitions but only by one point after Needham Market and Mickleover both triumphed.

United lost to goals from Daniel Barton in the 56th minute and Jonathan Edwards in the 82nd in front of 742 fans at The Valley Stadium.

Clarke added: "Up until 60 minutes it was a really close game between two good teams.

"We were edging it. We were causing problems but we didn't create loads. We had two or three half-chances.

"Unfortunately we made a really bad defensive error and that just deflated us. They were good in terms of their game management.

"We've lost to a good team. We've been on a really good run but Saturday was disappointing."

Midfielder Jack Concannon, 24, started for his debut after joining on an initial one-month loan from neighbours Alvechurch.