IAN LONG hopes the decisions of Kyle Morrison and Lee Chilton to reject better offers from rival clubs proves play-off-chasing Alvechurch have more to offer than money.
Defender Morrison, who has been a key figure in Church’s play-off push in his first season at the club, has turned down an approach to join Southern Premier Central rivals Barwell.
Midfielder Chilton, who joined before Christmas from Sporting Khalsa, has rejected a move to Bromsgrove Sporting.
Church boss Long admits he cannot compete financially with a lot of clubs at Step Three and even Step Four clubs like Sporting – hence his frustration at not being able to add to the squad.
However, the decisions of Morrison and Chilton have highlighted the camaraderie within the Lye Meadow ranks as they chase a remarkable third promotion in as many seasons.
“It’s really good news that Kyle and Lee have turned the offers,” said Long. “I made it clear to them I wanted both to stay and if it came down simply to money then we couldn’t compete.
“But we’ve been building something here at Alvechurch and you can see that by the number of players who have been with us for the last two or three years. It shows we’re doing something right.
“They can see what we do and they can see how professional we are and how we look after them. If you are professional off the pitch, then you are more likely to be professional on it. It’s not all about money.”
Church chalked up a second win in a row with last week’s 1-0 victory at home to Halesowen Town, with recent recruit Rahis Nabi bagging his first goal with a stunning free kick on the stroke of half-time.
“Rahis came in and did well – it was a great free kick,” said Long. “We deserved the three points, with the chances we had. Halesowen didn’t really threaten us.
“We hit the woodwork, had one ‘goal’ disallowed and we had opportunities, especially when they went down to ten men, but we were a little bit sloppy with our final ball.
“That’s two clean sheets on the bounce after we had conceded a few goals in recent weeks. The only problem there is that I’m having to pay a clean sheet bonus now!”
Despite lying in ninth place, they are just three points off third-placed King’s Lynn Town and will look to maintain the momentum when they head to St Neots Town on Saturday.
Then on Tuesday they renew their acquaintances with fifth-placed Stratford Town – for the sixth time this season – at Lye Meadow.
Defender Jamie Willets is now back in action after his groin operation, although keeper Charlie Price and midfielder Ryan Winwood remain injured while Dave Bellis is suspended for both matches.
Keeper Paul Evans has been getting some games with Wolverhampton Casuals but the recent arrival of Dan Crane has meant Matt Sergeant has exited to join Sporting Khalsa.
Long believes the battle for the play-offs will continue to be a roller-coaster over the next few months.
“The top two – Stourbridge and Kettering Town – have been consistent and I think King’s Lynn are well placed to get third but then there’s probably eight teams fighting for the other two play-off places and we’re one of them.”