IAN LONG believes the next week will have a huge bearing on whether Alvechurch can be considered title contenders.
By their own admission, the Churchmen have stuttered this season, suffering three defeats in the first quarter of the Midland League Premier Division campaign to lie third.
But now the next three games send Alvechurch to Loughborough University tomorrow (Saturday) before they entertain runaway leaders Westfields on Tuesday at Lye Meadow, followed by a home clash against second-placed Coleshill Town next Saturday.
Long warned Loughborough will be a tough before describing the clash against Westfields, who have won ten matches out of ten, as a ‘must-win’.
“We have got a massive week coming up, starting with Loughborough,” said Long. “They’ve only lost two games, they are young and fit and I think they are one of those side that could be right up there.
“Then we’ve got Westfields and that’s a huge game. That’s a must-win, not only for us, but probably for the rest of the league. Then we play Coleshill, so we’ve got the top two back to back.
“We can’t afford any slip-ups.”
Long, however, sees signs that Alvechurch are moving in the right direction.
Having defeated Coventry Sphinx 2-0 last weekend with goals from Josh March and Mark Smith, an Alvechurch team featuring three youth team starters and one under-21 player swept aside Continental Star 7-0 on Tuesday to reach the last 16 of the JW Hunt Cup. New signing Babucar Sauane showcased his talents with a hat-trick, with Andy Nicol (2), Danny Moy and an own goal adding to the tally.
Long has high hopes Sauane, signed from Smethwick Rangers, will have a big impact and crank up the wideman competition alongside March, Connor Deards, and Josh Sarmento.
“To get a hat-trick from midfield is really pleasing for Babucar,” said Long.
“He scored eight goals in eight games from Smethwick, all from midfield, and that’s midfield goalscoring threat is something we’ve lacked.”
With Jordan Nadat having moved to Coleshill, Alvechurch are looking to bolster the numbers, and Long confirmed he is talking to Wolves Sporting forward Dimitri Dunkley. The pacy forward has also played for Hednesford.
“We’re hopeful we can bring him in but it’s a case of wait and see,” said Long.
The Churchmen had also been tracking Mitchell Thompson from Coventry Sphinx but he has switched to Nuneaton Griff.