September 29th, 2016

Vase defeat haunts Long but Alvechurch must rally

IAN LONG says the only way Alvechurch can erase the pain of their crushing FA Vase exit will be to maintain their push for glory on four fronts.

The manager admitted he was distraught to see the Churchmen bow out in the last 32 at Cleethorpes Town on Saturday after his side had taken the lead.

Josh March gave the visitors the lead and they created and squandered chance after chance – with top scorer Karl Edwards the biggest culprit – only for Alvechurch to concede twice in two minutes.

Long says they have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they face two key league matches before a hugely significant trip to fellow Midland League Premier Division title contenders Hereford a week on Saturday.

Alvechurch are still involved in the Worcestershire Senior Urn – Tuesday’s night semi-final at home to Highgate United was postponed – plus the Polymac Packaging League Cup and JW Hunt Cup, but the priority is to win the league.

Long stressed they need maximum points from successive home games – weather permitting – against Stourport Swifts on Saturday and Rocester on Tuesday to bounce back ahead of the trip to table-toppers Hereford.

“It will me some time to get over Saturday,” said Long. “I was absolutely gutted.

“We had 50-70 fans travel a long, long way and in the last half an hour we just capitulated. We really did let people down.

“After going ahead we looked comfortable but after we conceded we never looked like getting back into it.

“It was a missed opportunity. If we had played Cleethorpes ten times, I’m sure we would have beaten them eight times.

“We had the chances but didn’t take them. That really hurt us.

“But now we need to bounce back. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got some big games coming up and we need to focus. We need to be mentally strong.”

Hereford have chalked up 26 wins in a row and have a 15-point lead on Alvechurch but have played six games more. However, with the Bulls in Vase action this weekend, the Churchmen have two league games before next Saturday’s head-to-head.

Long hopes to have Ryan Winwood back after illness to face Stourport, while Jordan Nadat can also return after being cup-tied.

However, the manager admits that, with the Churchmen now facing two games every week until the end of the campaign, he is keen to strengthen his squad.

“We are playing every Tuesday and every Saturday from now until the end of the season and we are going to need a big squad,” said Long.

“I’ve got a couple of targets in mind but we will have to wait to see whether we can get the players we need.”

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