Relieved Redbridge look to future after securing safety
PUBLISHED: 15:00 03 May 2013
Redbridge have secured their place in the Ryman One North
Redbridge may have secured their place in the Ryman One North for next season but boss Steve Portway holds out little hope of keeping star striker Jacob Cleaver at Oakside, writes Colin Munford.
Cleaver hit 18 league goals for the Motormen to help keep their place in the division and scooped both the players players and supporters player of the year awards at their presentation evening after rounding off the season with a 1-0 win over Sudbury.
But as Portway and joint boss Del Robinson make plans for the 2013-14 campaign, the former knows it will be difficult to keep Cleaver out of the clutches of rival clubs.
“In the end he’s going to go, he wants to be a professional,” said Portway.
“Del and I know quite a few people so we are going to get him some options because he has been loyal to us so we will be loyal to him, like everyone.
“He’s only a young man and this is his first proper season, but if he wants to get to a higher level he needs to improve — trust me I know.
“I’m hoping that he could stay because I feel I can improve him, being a striker myself.”
Left-back Charlie Rolls won the managers player of the year award and figured heavily in their much-improved defence over the final two months of the season.
“Charlie’s been really good, the whole defence in the last six to eight weeks has been immense,” added Portway.
“Charlie, who is 17, James Yeboah, Lamar (Lemonius) and Luke Reed. It is a really young defence, and the boys are learning which is a great thing.”
The Motormen went into the final game with a nine-goal cushion over near neighbours Ilford in the battle to avoid relegation.
But they produced an assured performance to claim the three points and ensure safety, even leapfrogging above Harlow to finish 20th.
Nana Asamoah netted the only goal of the game and Portway admitted he was delighted for the youngster, eventually.
“He came in at the start of the season, but the commitment side wasn’t for him,” added Portway.
“He has come back in recently and been really good. I was actually moaning at him a minute before he scored saying ‘work harder’ and then he scored. I said to him that is the best way to shut people up.
“We’ve worked hard for it, especially with what we’ve been through, and our target has always been to finish above Harlow. We could’ve had five or six goals.”
“We didn’t want to look down, so always focused up. As a club it would’ve been shocking (to suffer relegation).”