Redditch United lose striker Matt Smith to Droylsden
Redditch United's teenage striker Matt Smith has left Valley Stadium to join Blue Square Bet North rivals Droylsden.
Moving north to the Butchers Arms fits in with Smith, who has just started a university course in Manchester.
But Reds boss Matt Gardiner felt a move was inevitable after Smith's hat-trick in last Saturday's 4-1 win at Hyde.
"Matt is probably the fourth player I've had enquiries about because we're playing younger players," Gardiner told BBC Hereford & Worcester.
"If they get in and do well at this level then clubs will come in.
"He's still only 18 or 19 but he has decided to stay part-time as he has a big year at university in Manchester.
"We are going to lose him to Droylsden so it is a bit unfortunate but I wish him all the best as he has been brilliant for us."
Smith played only five games in a Redditch shirt but certainly made an impact, scoring five league goals. And, having lifted Redditch off the bottom of the league with last week's treble, Gardiner feels he has the capability to move on to bigger and better things.
"I have been saying to the players since the start of the season that they will get opportunities," added Gardiner. "And I think Matt could easily play in the Football League."
The Reds now face life without Smith as they head to Evostik League side Loughorough Dynamo for Saturday's FA Cup second qualifying round tie - and Gardiner is well aware of the potential perils.
"This will be by no means easy," he said. "I've been to watch them a couple of times and it is a nice surface, but it is all about the attitude. We have got to be totally professional."
Redditch are, ironically, due to face Droylsden in their next scheduled away league game at the Butchers Arms on 16 October.
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