IAN LONG believes Alvechurch are timing their promotion run to perfection like a long distance runner on the final lap.
Tuesday night’s last-minute 2-1 win against Gresley left Church four points clear in second place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South with games in hand on the chasing pack.
Despite the narrow margin of victory at Lye Meadow, with Ryan Winwood firing home on 89 minutes to add to Luke Yates’ opener, manager Long hailed the performance as one of their best of the season.
Alvechurch, unbeaten in eight league games, have lost just once in their last 18.
Nine wins from their 13 league games will be enough to secure promotion, while Church will seek a Birmingham Senior Cup upset on Monday night at Lye Meadow when they entertain West Bromwich Albion in a quarter-final tie.
“We played so well on Tuesday night, I was absolutely over the moon,” said Long. “We were talking a few weeks ago about momentum and putting in the performances at key periods.
“The way we played against Gresley was excellent. We opened them up numerous times, we dominated the game and if I’m being ultra-critical we didn’t take our chances. That said, Gresley’s keeper (Callum Hawkins) was man of the match.
“The Gresley manager (Damion Beckford-Quailey) was very complimentary. He said we were the best side they have played so far. It’s great to hear that.
“But now we need to keep it going for the next few months. We’ve got a strong squad, a big squad, and the players believe in each other.
“We need to keep taking maximum points. By my reckoning we need nine wins from our 13 remaining games and nobody can overtake us for second place.”
After last night (Thursday’s) JW Hunt Cup tie at Heath Hayes, Alvechurch head to Newcastle Town on Saturday and then, after the Albion cup tie, they head to Cleethorpes Town on Thursday for a rearranged league game.
The chance to push for county cup glory is also a big incentive against Albion U23s. The winners head to Stourbridge in the last four and Alvechurch last played in the final under Simon Redhead in 2010 – losing 2-1 to Nuneaton Town.
Church chairman Richard Thorndike will have a role to play as scouting supremo. His son Fin is part of the Baggies academy and the chairman will provide an insight into some of the youngsters with the Baggies. The visitors are also set to include hot prospect Jonathan Leko.