September 26th, 2016

Key duo’s absence is a chance for others to shine says Alvechurch manager Long

Updated: 4:34 pm, Sep 01, 2016

IAN LONG says the ‘double whammy’ of being without in-form duo Josh March and Zack Foster on Saturday will measure the strength of Alvechurch’s squad.

March has notched four goals in two games as the Churchmen finally got their Midland League Premier Division season into top gear with two Bank Holiday wins, while Foster’s precise crosses set up all three goals in Monday’s win at Highgate.

Manager Long regarded the 3-0 victory at Highgate as the best performance of the season so far but he will be forced to change a winning team in tomorrow’s rearranged home game against Stourport Swifts at Lye Meadow.

March and Foster both start suspensions as a result of their red cards against St Andrews two weeks ago but the likes of Leigh Downing, Connor Deards and Mike Wardle will come into contention.

“Josh and Zack have been excellent in the last two games so it’s a double whammy to lose them both,” said Long. “It’s time for other players to step up to the plate.

“I’ve said we will need a strong squad, a big squad. We’ve got that so I’ve got options.”

Alvechurch, however, have bid farewell to summer signing Simon Williams, who has returned to Lye Town. He feels he wants more regular football rather than being part of Alvechurch’s rotation philosophy.

“He’s had two starts out of our six games and he feels he wanted to play more,” said Long. “I couldn’t guarantee that.”

After facing Swifts, Alvechurch then visit Westfields on Wednesday for another tough early-season test. Going into the weekend, the Herefordshire side are the only team in the league with a 100 per cent winning record.

After a stuttering start to the season, successive wins against Long Eaton and Highgate – despite missing a penalty in both games – have fired Alvechurch into the top eight.

On Saturday, Foster slotted home a ninth-minute penalty but Church trailed 2-1 until March netted twice at the end of the first half and Jordan Nadat got another at the start of the second. Tom Turton settled matters with Alvechurch’s fifth 12 minutes from time.

Foster set up all three goals against Highgate, although he also missed another penalty.

March headed home the first at the Coppice and then converted a Foster free kick to make it 2-0 at half time. Jamie Spencer then headed home from an overlapping Foster cross.

“It was a proper centre forward’s goal – a good cross and a powerful header,” said Long.

“I’m really pleased Jamie got his goal and hopefully that will build his confidence. If he gets his season going, he will be a really good player for us.”