September 26th, 2016

Keepers urged to show who is number one

ALVECHURCH manager Ian Long is happy to let battle commence for the No 1 shirt after signing Matt Sargeant.

The former Worcester City and Tipton Town shot-stopper has joined the Churchmen from Halesowen Town to vie with Paul Evans and Mihai Gherasim for the keeper’s shirt.

Long admits it will be a tough task to keep all three keepers content but he said the opportunity to recruit Sargeant, who has been playing two levels higher, was simply too good to turn down.

Sargeant helped the Yeltz to the Evo-Stik Northern Division One South title two seasons ago before being a regular in the Premier last season.

Long said: “When a player of the calibre of Matt becomes available, you have to do what you can to bring them in. It means there is going to be a fight for the No 1 shirt but I want competition for every shirt.

“It’s up to whoever impresses and who plays well, whether it’s Paul, Mihai or Matt. I don’t have favourites – my favourites are whoever is playing well and in form.”

Sargeant becomes the second new signing in a week, following the capture of midfielder Sam Beasley from Lye Town.

Both players will come into contention for their debuts tomorrow (Saturday) when the Churchmen, third in the Midland League Premier, begin a run of four successive home league games by facing Shepshed Dynamo. On Tuesday, they entertain Westfields.

The run will be sandwiched by an FA Vase tie at AFC Bridgnorth next Saturday, but Long says it is vital Alvechurch turn Lye Meadow into a fortress to keep the pressure on Hereford and Heanor Town.

“If we want to compete for the title, we’ve got to make sure our home form is top class,” said Long. “Certainly Hereford are in sparkling form at the moment and we need to keep picking up maximum points.”

Long hailed the Alvechurch performance in defeating visitors Coleshill Town 3-0 on Saturday as ‘arguably the best of the season so far’.

Connor Deards slotted home a 22nd minute penalty to put the Churchmen ahead before Jordan Nadat broke the offside trap to double the lead eight minutes into the second half.

Leigh Downing rounded up an excellent performance with a smart finish to a five-man passing move.

Long, however, was less pleased with the display on Tuesday as a side, with seven changes, edged past hosts Studley in the Worcestershire Senior Urn quarter-finals 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Downing converted from close range following a Mike Wardle cross to give Alvechurch an eighth minute lead, but Dan Dineen levelled. Mark Smith headed home from a Jamie March cross to restore the Churchmen’s lead on 77 minutes but Dineen smashed home an equaliser with five minutes left.

In the shoot-out, it was 3-3 until Gherasim saved Dan Stokes’ spot-kick and Andy Parsons converted the decider.

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