HIGH-FLYING Redditch United have been rocked by a double blow over the last week.

Ahead of last Saturday's big home game with fellow promotion-chasers Mickleover, the Reds revealed manager Matt Clarke was to take an "immediate break" from football due to personal reasons.

The Reds then fell short against Mickleover at the Valley Stadium, losing 2-0 in front of 596 fans, with the next game now not until Saturday, March 16 at Royston Town.

United have slipped to third in Southern League Premier Division Central with AFC Telford United on their shoulders and leaders Needham Market and last weekend's opponents stretching their lead.

A club statement said: "Matt will be taking an immediate break from football for personal reasons. At this stage, we anticipate this to be a short break.

"The current backroom staff will be leading the team and it is expected that this will continue to be the case until Matt’s return."

Clarke has guided his side to the dizzy heights with the Reds leading the table at various points, winning 11 of their last 15 league games in the pursuit of promotion.

Midfielder Gift Mussa was voted player of the match in the Reds' defeat to Mickleover with late goals from Marcus Barnes on 80 minutes and three minutes into injury-time sinking the hosts.

Before the game Redditch extended the loan of midfielder Jack Concannon from neighbours Alvechurch for the rest of the season.

Assistant boss Keron Jackson, a former West Bromwich Albion academy coach, said of Clarke's break: "We know our roles and responsibilities so for us it's business as usual.

"The players are absolutely fine. They have been first-class as we expect and it was just a sickener to take that (the Mickleover defeat).

"The 2-0 defeat doesn't give a true reflection of the game. The first goal was disappointing as it was from our set-piece.

"We have to move on from this one quickly and take it on the chin. We're already planning for the next game."

The Reds are nearing a fully-fit squad ahead of the run-in with skipper Reece Flanagan and full-back Brad Burton both starting at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Alvechurch's Premier Division Central home game with Telford at Lye Meadow last Saturday was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Church were due to entertain Halesowen Town last night before welcoming St Ives Town on Saturday (3pm).