16th Jul, 2019

Alvechurch boss looking to strengthen depleted squad

FRUSTRATED Ian Long admits he is having to look further afield to try to strengthen a depleted Alvechurch squad.

Despite their rise to the fringe of the play-off zone in their first season in Southern Premier Central, manager Long fears departures and injuries have weakened the usual strength in depth which has been the platform for success in the past three years.

While he has no worries about throwing in youngsters from the burgeoning youth set-up – Ben Cassidy became the club’s youngest ever scorer at the age of 16 in the midweek CSS League Cup defeat to Stratford Town – he is conscious of the need to bring in players accustomed to the level.

With a move for Halesowen Town striker James Roberts having stalled, the Church boss has filed an approach for Loughborough Dynamo forward Karl Demidh. He has also played for Rocester, Heanor and Mickleover.

“It’s a little bit frustrating at the moment because we are down on numbers and I’m struggling to bring anybody in,” said Long, who is looking for a centre-forward and centre-back.

“We’re not going to bring in anybody just for the sake of it. They need to improve us and now we’re at Step Three that gets harder and harder.

“The pool of players we’re looking at has got smaller, especially with the money we can afford. There are some clubs with big budgets.

“Myself, Rich Colwell, the chairman (Richard Thorndike), Simon Redhead and Kevin Hadley are all working hard to try to add to the squad.”

The numbers have been depleted by Andy Parsons, Trea Bertie and Aaron Birch moving on, while injuries have added further problems. New striker Andre Landell, who joined last week from Rushall Olympic, has a hamstring injury, as do Ryan Winwood and Danny O’Callaghan, while another midfielder Theo Llewellyn has shin splints.

Long is hopeful one new face could be involved when Alvechurch head to Bedworth United on Saturday. Both were promoted last season but the Greenbacks, who twice held Church to goalless draws last term, have yet to win this season and are rooted to the foot of the table.

“We had two tough games against Bedworth and their squad is pretty similar,” said Long. “We can’t be complacent.”

Last weekend’s 2-1 win against visitors St Ives Town left Alvechurch just two points off the play-off places. Mitch Botfield converted the first goal from Zack Foster’s cross for a 1-0 interval lead and Botfield’s free-kick provided skipper Jamie Willets with the chance to head home the second before the Saints pulled a goal back in stoppage time through Mark Coulson.

Church made five changes on Tuesday for the League Cup tie with Stratford. Town netted first through Lewis Wilson, but Cassidy and Botfield gave the hosts the advantage, only for Mike Taylor and Will Grocott to strike twice in a minute just before half-time before Wilson Carvalho tapped in number four for Stratford.

It was the sides’ second cup meeting already this season – Church won their FA Cup tie in September – and they will face each other again on October 27 at Lye Meadow, having been paired in the FA Trophy first qualifying round. The winners receive £3,250.

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