IAN LONG wants his new-look Alvechurch squad to be inspired by the club’s proud FA Cup tradition when the road to Wembley begins on Saturday.
The Churchmen have had an indifferent start to the Midland Football League Premier Division season, with one win and one defeat.
Manager Long admitted he was devastated by Saturday’s opening day 3-0 defeat at home to AFC Wulfriunians, but was pleased to bounce back with a 2-1 win at Continental Star on Wednesday, courtesy of a Leigh Downing cracker and an own goal.
On Saturday Church will look to maintain the momentum when they entertain Heath Hayes in an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie.
Alvechurch participated in the longest ever cup tie – defeating Oxford City after six matches lasting 11 hours in 1971 – in a record which will never be beaten, were the first team to play in a Sunday tie and also reached the third round proper in 1974.
However, the Lye Meadow men have not got past the first qualifying round since 1991.
Long said: “We would love a good cup run – every non-league club wants a good cup run.
“The FA Cup is important financially and it always gets people interested. Get a good cup run and everything can snowball.
“The club has got a bit of history when it comes to the FA Cup and it would be fantastic to make some more.”
Long will tinker with the Alvechurch squad to face Heath Hayes, who were relegated from the Midland Premier last season.
Keeper Paul Evans and highly-rated full back Zac Foster, who interested Redditch United and Stratford Town in the summer, are both available after holidays and Dave Bellis, absent on Wednesday, can also return.
Defender Luke Paskin has started his rehabilitation after an ankle injury and could be back within a couple of weeks.
The manager says rotation will be the name of the game throughout the season and he shuffled his line-up to face Continental.
“We made five or six changes on Wednesday, some were forced and some by choice because we were poor on Saturday. We preach squad rotation and there will be changes again on Saturday.
“But I haven’t been able to name what would be our strongest team yet because of holidays and Luke Paskin’s injury. He’s back training now and hopefully we will have him back against Highgate on Bank Holiday Monday.”
Alvechurch had been unbeaten in pre-season but they were brought back to earth by visitors AFC Wulfs on Saturday.
The hosts never recovered after Jamie King volleyed home on the stroke of half time and then Church striker Karl Edwards hit the post with a penalty ten minutes after the break.
Ricky Anslow latched on to a back header for a second goal in the 73rd minute and Jake Sedgemore tucked home a penalty to make it 3-0.
On Wednesday, Alvechurch were much more convincing to defeat Continental at Dales Lane.
Downing opened the scoring with a 35-yard rocket after nine minutes and it was 2-0 after half an hour when Nigel Penney’s cross was headed into his own net by a Continental defender.
James Reid pulled a goal back from the penalty spot 20 minutes from time but Church continued to create chances, with Downing and Joel Ambalu going close.
“We were comfortable, we dominated in the second half and could have had more goals. But it was more about the result, than the performance,” said Long.