ALVECHURCH travel to Loughborough University on Saturday in the Midland Football League Premier Division hoping to bounce back from their extra time FA Vase first qualifying round exit at Lichfield City on Saturday, writes Anna-Louise Adams.
Lee Adams’ side were beaten 4-2 in an exciting tie which had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.
The home side took the lead in the 16th minute courtesy of a smart goal by Zak Horrobin who swept the ball in from just outside the box after an initial effort from Ahmet Bilgimer had been blocked.
Alvechurch had a chance in the 28th minute when a great ball from Jack Cresswell released Edwin Ahenkorah one-on-one with goalkeeper Craig Johnson, but the home keeper went to the ground to claim the ball and preserve Lichfield’s lead.
A Brendan Kelly header from a floated corner was headed off the line on 31 minutes as Church increased the pressure, but there was no breakthrough for the visitors before the interval.
The second half began poorly for the visitors, as the home side capitalised on an error made by the Church defence to double their lead.
A long ball through the middle was missed by James Walker and Bilgimer latched on to the loose ball and swept it low past Stuart Parsons from 15 yards.
Half time substitute Chris Rabone swept down the left and crossed for Ahenkorah to send a bullet header over Johnson’s bar and manager Adams then made a double substitution to change the shape of the side on 54 minutes, bringing on front men Ben Markell and new signing Naveed Arshad and withdrawing defender Walker, along with Gareth Evans.
Within two minutes Church were back in the game when Rabone was tripped in the box after attempting to skip past Richard Deavalle on the left. The resulting penalty was despatched confidently by Cresswell to halve the arrears.
Five minutes later Alvechurch managed to draw level after Arshad fed Chris Hughes who forced the ball in from eight yards.
Lichfield had a goal disallowed on 80 minutes when Bilgimer fell foul of the assistant’s flag as he swept the ball past Parsons, before forcing the keeper into an excellent one-handed save after a smart turn and shot from the edge of the box.
With only three minutes remaining, Arshad could have settled it with a shot from eight yards but the ball went wide and the game headed into extra time.
Church struggled in extra time as Hughes remained on the pitch despite battling with injury as all three substitutes had been made.
Lichfield were awarded a penalty which substitute Liam Holt converted by sending the ball high to Parsons’ right to restore City’s lead.
A second penalty looked on the cards in the last minute of the match, but the referee allowed advantage which saw Holt sweep the ball into the net from close range to seal the victory.
Lichfield finished the game as the stronger side and deserved their place in the next round as Alvechurch looked to be flagging as they created few clear opportunities in extra time.
Alvechurch now return to league action, having taken 13 points from seven games in an encouraging start.