IAN LONG says Alvechurch’s next two matches are must-win contests before they head into the rearranged potential title decider against Hereford.
The keenly-awaited sell-out fixture between the Midland League Premier Division top two was called off mid-morning on Monday after Storm Katie left a waterlogged pitch at Lye Meadow.
Church boss Ian Long was frustrated, feeling the pitch could have been playable, but the game has now been rescheduled for Thursday, April 7.
Long allowed his players a night off training on Tuesday but says they must now concentrate on Saturday’s clash at Coventry Sphinx and then Tuesday’s trip to nearby Highgate United before they face the Bulls.
“Everybody was so disappointed the Monday game was postponed but now the next two games are crucial before the rearranged Hereford fixture,” said Long. “We’ve got to refocus. We want to make sure we’ve still got at least a five-point lead before we go into the Hereford match.
“We’ve won three in a row after losing to Boldmere and hopefully the seven-day break we’ve had will allow everyone in the squad to recharge their batteries. It’s going to be tough now with four games in a week but we’ve got a big squad and everyone wants to play.”
Long, though, felt the referee was premature in calling off the Hereford game. The pitch was sodden after torrential rain but the decision to postpone the clash came five hours before kick-off.
Long said: “The inspection was at 10am and we had had a lot of rain, but I went to the ground at noon and it had been drying up. We’ve played on worse pitches this season.
“It meant we’ve lost a few quid but I felt worse for all the people who had put in so much work. We’ve got to offer refunds, some people won’t be able to get to the new game and all the food was prepared so we will lose money.”
Tickets will be valid for Thursday but anyone unable to attend can get a refund by returning their tickets by Saturday. Tickets will then will be resold to Church supporters only from the club from 10am to noon. Proof of address will be required. E-mail Steve Denny at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Long, meanwhile, praised the Churchmen’s never-say-die spirit after they claimed a priceless 1-0 win against visitors Heanor Town on Saturday, despite missing two penalties.
James Spray had a first half spot-kick saved by Heanor keeper Joe McCormack and then Josh March hit the angle of post and crossbar after the break from a second penalty.
Sam Williams bagged the winner, stabbing home a shot from Connor Deards’ effort after an initial break by Jordan Nadat with just four minutes to play.
The Churchmen have missed four of their last five spot-kicks and Long is at a loss as to why the team is so profligate from 12 yards.
“You won’t win the title if you can’t take your penalties,” said Long. “We’ve let too many teams off the hook.”
“But credit to the lads, they kept going to the end. We’ve scored a few late goals and that shows the character in the squad. We keep going and going, forcing teams to defend and they fall back and back.”
Alvechurch had plenty of possession and chances in horrendous wind and rain against Heanor at Lye Meadow before Williams struck.
Midfielder Leigh Downing had to be substituted with an ankle injury but should be available for Saturday, but defender Luke Paskin is away on a stag do.