September 26th, 2016

Red cards fail to halt the Alvechurch charge

Updated: 12:24 pm, Sep 29, 2015

ALVECHURCH are sitting pretty in fifth place in the Midland Football League Premier Division – just a point behind leaders Long Eaton United – after extending their winning league run to six matches despite having players red-carded in each of their past two matches.

Mark Smith saw red during Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bardon Hill and Richard Huckfield was given his marching orders in Tuesday’s 1-0 success at Walsall Wood.

However, Ian Long’s side gave further notice that they are a force to be reckoned with this season as they twice overcame their numerical disadvantage to set themselves up perfectly for another important week of league action, which brings a trip to Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday before Tuesday night’s visit of Coventry Sphinx.

Alvechurch gradually got on top during Tuesday’s victory in the Black Country and the decisive moment arrived in the 56th minute when Josh March was brought down in the box and, following March’s failure from 12 yards three days earlier, Leigh Downing stepped up to bag the winner.

Soon afterwards Huckfield was dismissed after receiving two yellow cards within a minute but, despite a tense finale in which the hosts hit the bar, Alvechurch hung on to claim a deserved victory.

On Saturday Alvechurch took a tenth minute lead when Downing whipped in a fine free kick from which Connor Deards nodded home from close range.

Nine minutes later the match appeared to take a turn in the hosts’ favour when Smith was sent off for retaliation in response to an incident with a home striker who was himself very lucky to remain on the pitch.

However, Long’s troops rose to the challenge in front of them and, whilst they were indebted to several excellent saves from keeper Paul Evans, the visitors remained good value for their success.

It was 2-0 just before the break when Karl Edwards, with his back to goal, turned his marker before finding the corner of the net with a superb left-footed shot.

The hosts pressed to find a way back into the match and struck the woodwork but Alvechurch stood firm and netted a third goal in the 88th minute when substitute Joel Ambalu made an instant impact with a stunning solo effort which saw him pick the ball up on the left and glide past several defenders before firing into the corner of the net.

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