IAN LONG has warned Alvechurch they cannot afford a repeat of their last two performances – despite two victories – if they want to maintain their title challenge.
Three goals in the final ten minutes sealed a 4-0 win at home to Dunkirk on Saturday and a sudden-death penalty shoot-out win accounted for lower league visitors Wednesfield in Tuesday’s JW Hunt Cup clash after a 2-2 draw.
But manager Long said the performances were well below-par and they will need to be back on form tomorrow (Saturday) when they visit Loughborough University.
“I had a few words at half time on Saturday because it was really, really flat,” said Long. “There was no real urgency in our play and it took us an hour to get going.
“On Tuesday, we made ten changes to the team but we were diabolical. The only positive was the performance of two youth-teamers, Brogan Halpin and Jack Francis, but they weren’t really helped by the experienced players alongside them.
“We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to put in better performances than we did against Dunkirk and Wednesfield.”
The Churchmen lie one point behind Hereford in the Midland League Premier Division table, with three games in hand, after winning nine league games in a row.
On paper, they have the chance to maintain the momentum in the next few weeks, with matches against three of the bottom four.
After tomorrow’s match at Loughborough, they entertain Boldmere St Michaels on Tuesday and then face bottom of the table Continental Star on October 24.
“We’ve got to be looking for maximum points from the next three games but we have got to be right. We can’t let standards slip,” added Long.
The Churchmen will be without centre half Luke Paskin, who suffered a foot injury in the win against Wednesfield.
Paskin has only recently returned to action after an ankle injury in pre-season.
“Luke hasn’t had the best of luck this season,” said Long. “He heard a crunch when he landed on his foot and he is in a little bit of discomfort so I’m a little bit concerned.”
Better news is that Mark Smith is available after a trip to Dubai. The experienced former Tividale, Halesowen Town and Cradley Town defender has pledged himself to Alvechurch after turning down an approach from Coleshill Town.