IAN LONG believes Alvechurch will prove their worth at the level above – if they get their chance to win promotion.
Long admits Hereford are odds-on to win the Midland League Premier Division title, with the Bulls needing two wins from their final three matches to guarantee the crown after a titanic battle.
The Midland League say they will have the trophy at Hereford on Saturday when the hosts play Heanor, while Alvechurch entertain Bardon Hill.
However, manager Long is hoping to carry the challenge until the final Saturday of the season, even though they face playing five games in the final week of the league campaign.
Alvechurch could record a whopping 104 points and still finish second, but Long is hoping a runners-up spot could yet be enough to be promoted. Only the champions of the varied feeder leagues are guaranteed elevation, subject to passing ground standards.
“Hereford are looking stronger as the games run out,” said Long. “I’m probably clutching at straws but we are going to keep pushing them as long as we can.
“I’m drumming it into the lads to collect as many points as we can in case we get the chance to go up as one of the best runners-up.
“We could still amass 104 points, which would be nine more than when we would the title with the bulk of this squad with Tividale two years ago. We would be a bit unlucky not to go up if we get more than 100 points.
“It’s unfortunate we’ve had a phoenix club like Hereford in the league this season but hopefully we could both go up. I think we’ve shown we’re good enough and if we went up to the Evo-Stik we would make the league stronger. I would like to think we would be competitive.”
Saturday’s match at Sporting Khalsa was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch but that has left the Churchmen facing an exhausting finale.
The match at the Aspray Arena was initially scheduled for tonight (Friday) but then rearranged for Monday. It will mean back-to-back matches against the Willenhall side, with Khalsa at Lye Meadow next Tuesday before Church entertain Long Eaton on Thursday and then visit Coleshill Town next Saturday.
If Alvechurch do miss out on the title, Long admits their dismal penalty-taking will have cost them dearly.
Defender Andy Parsons became the latest culprit, firing his spot-kick hopelessly over in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at home to Brocton as Hereford chalked up a 3-0 win at Khalsa.
Goals from Nathaniel Waite after he followed up Jordan Nadat’s effort and a James Spray shot 15 minutes from time sealed the points, but Parsons’ miss following a handball award was the TENTH penalty Alvechurch have missed this term.
“I can’t ever remember anything like it from any football team,” said Long. “I wonder whether it’s a record! It’s not one I want to remember.
“Andy Parsons’ kick was probably the worst of the lot. I couldn’t even bear to watch.
“Our penalty record has really cost us. If you look at those points we could have had, missing a penalty against Hereford and those other misses, we could have been level with Hereford and with two games in hand.”
Ironically, Danny Ashton had been the new designated penalty-taker but he had to miss the Brocton game through illness. However, he should be available to face Bardon on Saturday.