FOOTBALL: IAN LONG admits Alvechurch’s clash with fellow under-performers Sporting Khalsa tomorrow (Saturday) will be a ‘must-win’ for both sides – even with seven months of the season to play.
Church’s 3-0 win over Shawbury United on Tuesday lifted them to seventh place in the Midland League Premier Division, one place behind Khalsa, but both are already 11 points behind runaway leaders Westfields, who chalked up a ninth win out of nine matches by hammering Highgate United on Wednesday.
Church boss Long and Khalsa counterpart Ian Rowe are old pals – both shared a curry after a scouting trip to Stourbridge on Monday – but only a victory in tomorrow’s Lye Meadow head-to-head will satisfy.
Long admits the Churchmen, who lost for the third time this season at Walsall Wood last weekend, cannot afford to slip up, with only one promotion place up for grabs.
“Even at this stage of the season, you have to look at the Khalsa game as a must-win,” said Long. “That’s the same for Khalsa.
“We need to be ready for the fight. We need to show that hunger, that desire. Khalsa are physically strong, they will press and hustle us and we need to be able to stand up to it.”
That has been a concern for Alvechurch so far this season, with Long openly admitting they need to find a leader on the pitch to rally the troops.
Against Wood, they were in control with new signing Daniel Dubidat, the former Redditch and Bedworth striker, opening the scoring on his debut to give them a first-half lead.
But Drew Aiton and Church old boy Karl Edwards turned the game on its head to give Wood the points.
“We totally dominated the game for 60 minutes but once Walsall Wood scored we just collapsed. We seem to capitulate when we concede. That cannot continue.”
Long and No 2 Richard Colwell are looking for additions, but they have also bid farewell to defender Luke Paskin bu nutual consent, while midfielder Michael McGrath, who only joined two weeks ago from Hednesford, has left to join Hereford.
Andy Nicol, however, has rejected a move to Studley. The striker has been frustrated by his lack of action but after a heart-to-heart with Long is set to get his chance.