IAN LONG fears Alvechurch’s woeful penalty taking will cost them the Midland League Premier Division title.
The Churchmen missed a NINTH spot kick of the season as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Hereford in last week’s top of the table contest at Lye Meadow.
Jordan Nadat’s effort was saved by Bulls keeper Martin Horsell as Hereford prevailed and they now sit seven points ahead of Church, who have six matches remaining to Hereford’s five.
Manager Long admits the errant penalty-taking has cost them dearly and now the championship is odds-on to finish at Edgar Street.
“I’ve never known anything like it – that’s nine penalties we missed this season,” said Long. “The funny thing was that we had practised penalties on Tuesday and Jordan was really confident.
“But when the penalty was awarded I went up to the Hereford manager and said ‘don’t worry, we will miss it’ and unfortunately I was right.
“We’ve dropped so many points. There was the missed penalty against Boldmere, two against Quorn which cost us four points, the one against Hereford. You could even go back to the opening day of the season when we missed against AFC Wulfrunians which would have made it 1-1 and they were down to ten men.
“Against Hereford was even more frustrating because we were in the ascendancy. If we had scored it would have been 2-2 and who knows what might have happened in those final few minutes.”
Long believes the title is now Hereford’s to lose as a titanic battle between the two sides reaches its finale.
The Churchmen will be hoping for more twists and turns but Long feels Hereford have the easier run-in and a big advantage.
“I can’t them slipping up now – it looks like Hereford’s title,” said Long. “We just want to do what we can.”
Long hopes the unseemly brawls involving a few supporters will not tarnish last week’s occasion in front of 1,600 fans – the biggest attendance at Lye Meadow for more than 30 years.
“A lot of it was handbags and bravado but it ruined the night for a lot of people,” said Long. “It was unnecessary.
“We had ample stewards and the police acted quickly but people have got to be responsible for their own behaviour.”
Alvechurch return to league action with another top of the table contest on Saturday when they head to third placed Sporting Khalsa.