FOR only the third time in 2018, Alvechurch failed to score but that mattered little as Ian Long’s side celebrated back-to-back promotions on Thursday night.
A point from a goalless contest which they dominated was enough to guarantee second spot in their first season in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier South and book a place in the new Midlands Step Three next term alongside the likes of Redditch United, Stourbridge and Tamworth.
Long’s side should have had the game against play-off chasing Bedworth done and dusted by half-time, but they found the Greenbacks keeper Dan Crane in inspired form.
Indeed, the visitors might have spoiled the party, only for former Alvechurch striker Luke Keen to hit the post in the final 20 minutes, but referee Neil Pratt’s final whistle was greeted with delight from Church fans, players and officials.
Alvechurch had been in the ascendancy from the early stages, with Bedworth defender Kyle Cartwright hooking off the line after Aaron Lloyd’s cross-shot deflected goalwards, but Keen reminded the hosts of his threat with a dipping free-kick which clipped the top of the bar.
Despite the hosts suffering a blow when Babucar Sauane was forced off after 11 minutes with a hamstring injury, most of the play was directed towards the Bedworth goal. Crane stood up well to deny Yusifu Ceesay after he raced onto a Lloyd header and then the keeper thwarted the livewire forward again from close range after Tom Turton’s pass sent him haring goalwards.
At the other end Church No 1 Paul Evans kept the game goalless with an excellent stop from Keen in a swift counterattack but Alvechurch continued to create with Jamie Willets so close to the opener just before the break.
First, the defender’s goalbound header from Turton’s corner was scrambled away and then another towering header from Ryan Winwood’s far-post cross had Crane flummoxed, only for the ball to hit the base of the post.
The second half became increasingly scrappy, but Church possessed the greater threat as Winwood’s effort was charged down and Lloyd was again left to rue Crane’s excellence with another brave block.
Bedworth were pegged back but the contest became more and more nervous and Church had to breathe a huge sigh of relief with 18 minutes to go when Keen’s angled effort slammed against the upright.
It meant for the second time this season the two sides ended up drawing 0-0 after a Boxing Day stalemate but it could not prevent the Champagne corks popping at the final whistle, and the jubilant Lye Meadow players and staff saluting the fans with an Iceland-style Alvechurch thunderclap and a chorus of ‘The Church are going up!’.