September 27th, 2016

Long backs Alvechurch to raise their game

Updated: 5:46 pm, Aug 25, 2015

IAN Long insisted there is plenty more to come from his new-look Alvechurch – and they will need to prove it in the next week.

The Churchmen cleared their first FA Cup hurdle with consummate ease on Saturday as they cruised past visitors Heath Hayes 3-0 in the extra preliminary round, but manager Long admits they will need to raise their game again when they visit Dunkirk in the Midland Football League Premier Division on Saturday and then entertain Lye Town on Tuesday.

A Leigh Downing penalty after Nicky Turton was fouled and neatly-worked efforts from Nigel Penney and Josh March sealed a one-sided win against Heath Hayes to book a cup trip to Midland Premier rivals Stourport Swifts on August 29.

While Long was happy with a second successive win, he was not entirely satisfied.

“There were plenty of positives from Saturday but there’s a lot more to come from us,” said Long.

“After going 2-0 up I felt we took our foot off the gas and allowed them to have more possession.

“We could have scored a few more goals and we will certainly need to be better.

“No disrespect to Heath Hayes or Contintental Star (who Church recently defeated 2-1), but there are a lot tougher tests ahead, starting with the game at Dunkirk.

“Against the better teams, we’ve got to be more ruthless in the box. Chances against the better teams are few and far between and you need to take them.”

Church will be without midfielder Sam Williams for the trip to Nottingham side Dunkirk, whose record mirrors Alvechurch’s, with an opening day defeat at Hereford followed by wins against Sporting Khalsa and Bardon Hill.

Williams is unavailable for the next two games but Ryan Winwood, Chris Field or Jack Cresswell, who has had a rib injury, could come in.

With two games inside four days, Long will utilise the whole squad, stressing it was the strength in depth that will be crucial over the campaign.

“The games come thick and fast and the players know we will rotate the squad,” said Long.

“Togetherness is important and everyone knows they will have a role to play. Everyone is champing at the bit to play.”

Defender Luke Paskin is getting closer to a full debut as he continues his rehabilitation from a pre-season ankle injury.

Paskin, the manager’s player of the year under Long at Tividale last season, had a 75-minute run-out with Cradley Town in midweek and is likely to have another game elsewhere before coming into Church contention.

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