IAN LONG says he was left contemplating his footballing future after ‘a scandalous’ refereeing display against his Alvechurch team.
The Lye Meadow manager was incensed by the referee’s performance in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Leicestershire side St Andrews as the Churchmen ended with nine men.
Goalscorer Josh March was dismissed for retaliation and Zack Foster then shown a straight red for dangerous play to leave Alvechurch to play 20 minutes with nine players.
Long said Alvechurch will be reporting referee Richard Walker to the Midland League after describing his display as “awful” and “diabolical”.
“I’ve got no argument about the sendings-off but there were a lot of decisions that left me absolutely baffled,” said Long. “There were some scandalous decisions. Jordan Nadat got punched in the kidneys, Jamie Spencer was cleaned out with an elbow and we didn’t get anything.
“ It was embarrassing and the most annoying thing was that the referee was running around smirking at us.
“I felt I wanted to pack it all in. I felt like ‘why bother’ when you get treated like that. We put a lot of time, a lot of effort into our football, the chairman puts a lot of money into the club and then to see a laughable refereeing performance like that… I was just disgusted. It’s soul-destroying.”
Long was more positive about his players’ spirited reaction to being reduced to nine men to dig in for a point and they can expect another examination of their character tomorrow (Saturday) when they head to Hereford in the FA Cup preliminary round.
It will mean a reunion with the Bulls side which pipped the Churchmen to the Midland League Premier Division title last season but, while Alvechurch have drawn back-to-back league games after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Heanor and the midweek stalemate at St Andrews, Hereford have chalked up four wins in a row.
To add extra spice, it will be phoenix club Hereford’s first FA Cup game since their reformation from the remains of the club which famously knocked out Newcastle United in 1972 in one of football’s greatest upsets.
Long says he enjoyed the battle with the Bulls last term, as did the two clubs’ fans via social media, but he regards tomorrow’s tie as a “pressure-free ”contest.
“I don’t think there’s no pressure on us on Saturday,” said Long. “For a club like ourselves, the FA Cup is about making money. Going to Hereford and playing in front of 4,000 will mean a good payday, whatever the result.
“For once this season, we will be the underdogs and that’s something we can enjoy.
“It will be tough and we will have to perform a lot better than we have so far. Hopefully playing Hereford again will bring out the best in our lads.”
Long will hope to have playmaker James Spray, who had his first action of the season as a midweek substitute, and midfielder Jack Cresswell both available at Edgar Street.
The winners of the tie will be away to Romulus or Sporting Khalsa in the next stage in a fortnight’s time.
Alvechurch will host Lye Town in the league on Tuesday, subject to any FA Cup replays.